Judge denies woman's request for new trial

31-year-old claims she fired a warning shot in self-defense

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A woman facing a 20-year sentence for firing warning shot during an argument with her husband will not receive a new trial, a judge ruled Thursday morning.

Marissa Alexander, 31, claims she fired a shot from a handgun into the wall to protect herself during a confrontation with her husband, who she claimed had abused her.  Because he was with two children when she fired a shot in his direction, she was charged with three counts of aggravated assault.

Alexander's attorneys used the "stand your ground" law as part of their claim of self-defense during the trial, but prosecutors say it doesn't apply because she left the room, got a gun and returned to confront him.

A jury found Alexander guilty and she faces 20 years in prison.

State Attorney Angela Corey said she personally met with Alexander and reviewed the evidence in the case. She said she offered Alexander a three-year sentence before the case went to trial despite the case qualifying for a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence.

"The Internet is filled with contentions that she filed a warning shot as she was being choked. Nothing could be further from the truth," Corey said. "Apparently, this jury had an abiding conviction of guilt."

Alexander's attorney, Kevin Cobbin, continues to believe she fired that shot in self defense and plans to appeal the conviction.

"I know she fired a gun in a home, but I also know that the individual that was in front of her, confronting her, had already beaten her several times, had beaten her that day and was about to try to beat her again," Alexander's attorney, Kevin Cobbin, said. "That's the time when you defend yourself."

Alexander's case has attracted support of several community organizations and media attention as she was portrayed as a victim of domestic violence.

Organizations including Florida New Majority, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Hurting Families With Children In Crime, Northside Community Involvement, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference - Jacksonville Chapter, local pastors, community residents and other organizations rallied outside the Duval County Courthouse before Thursday's hearing.

"It is important for the community to come together and show their support for Marissa Alexander," said Greg Newburn, Florida director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums. "These events let our leaders know that we expect reform to prevent these kinds of injustices from occurring again."

Angie Nixon, Florida New Majority's North Florida Regional Coordinator stated, "A woman's right to protect herself, should not be on trial. Florida New Majority is calling for the release of Marissa Alexander."

Addressing the media after Thursday's hearing, Corey said Alexander's bond in this case was revoked after she was arrested for domestic battery when she confronted her husband at his new home. Corey said Alexander has pleaded no contest to that charge.

Judge James Daniel scheduled sentencing in the aggravated assault case for next Friday.

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