Thousands petition for Marissa Alexander's release

Prosecutor Angela Cory now seeking 60-year sentence, sparking national outrage

Marissa Alexander appears in court for a pretrial hearing.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Freedom for a Jacksonville woman facing up to 60 years in prison for firing a shot in the direction of her now ex-husband has become a national cause. Thousands have signed an online petition seeking the woman's release.

Marissa Alexander spent two years of a 20-year sentence behind bars for firing a shot in the direction of her ex-husband. Alexander is on house arrest after being given a new trial.

Prosecutor Angela Corey's office is retrying Alexander.  Due to a new interpretation of Florida sentencing guidelines, another conviction could result in a 60-year sentence.

"She has consistently and persistently overcharged and under-prosecuted the killers of black and brown bodies in the state of Florida," said Edward James, of Black Youth Project 100.

The group brought 100,000 online petitions to the Gov. Rick Scott's office; the petitions seek Alexander's release and the firing of Cory.

"Nobody was hurt, aside from her when she was abused by her husband, and now you want to take away 60 years of her life," said Melissa Bryne, of Ultra Violet.

Marissa Alexander appears in court for a pretrial hearing.

One petition says, "Let this woman go... she has suffered enough." Another asks, "How can a man go free for murdering a boy... and a woman face 60 years in jail for injuring no one?"

The governor's office accepted the petitions and the flowers.

It's been two weeks since lawmakers passed the bill that basically legalizes the firing of warning shots. It has yet to make it to the governor for his signature.

Aimee Castenell, from Color of Change, said the new legislation is good but said, "This is a larger issue of judging the systemic violence against black and brown people in the state of Florida."

The legislation also encourages anyone convicted of firing a shot and sent to prison to seek executive clemency from the governor.

The legislative language on clemency is a strong hint lawmakers believe clemency is appropriate for anyone who's in jail for firing in self-defense.