Supporters: Self-defense law fails mom

Woman facing 20 years in prison for firing gun at now-ex-husband

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Marissa Alexander
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Marissa Alexander

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Supporters of Marissa Alexander say Florida's "stand your ground" law failed her, and now the mother of three is looking at spending the next 20 years in prison.

"I cannot afford to give up on her because the kids need their mother, want their mother," said Lincoln Alexander, Marissa's first husband.

He and Marissa's family rallied at the courthouse Wednesday for a new trial.

Marissa was convicted last month of aggravated assault after she fired a gun at her now-ex-husband inside their home in 2010.

"She didn't want to shoot him, she just didn't want to endure any more beatings from him," Lincoln said.

According to court documents, Marissa said her second husband was abusive. She said the two got into a fight and her husband tried to strangle her.

When she got away, she said she ran into the garage, but it wouldn't open. Marissa told investigators she feared for her life and grabbed her gun out of her car.

She went back into the home, and when her husband rushed at her, she fired one shot into the ceiling as a warning, according to the court documents. Marissa's husband had two children with him at the time, according to the documents.

"I believe my sister had a right to stand her ground because she was in a situation that could have taken her life," Helena Jenkins said. "If that's not self-defense, I don't know what is."

Marissa's attorney filed a motion of immunity under Florida's stand your ground law. According to court documents, the judge dismissed it.

"The law says you need to be in reasonable use of deadly force at the time you're using the force," former prosecutor Jay Plotkin said. "She was in the garage away from the person. She claimed she was in fear and there was no indication this person was going to attack her or confront her."

Plotkin, who didn't work on this particular case, said Marissa's attorney still used the self-defense claim, but the jury didn't buy it.

Marissa's family wished they did, but instead she was convicted last month.

"She doesn't deserve this. It's unreal," Jenkins said. "It's like a nightmare. I keep wanting to wake up, but it's real."

A pre-sentencing hearing for Marissa is scheduled for Monday. Her lawyer also filed a motion for a new trial.