Florida Changes ‘Stand your Ground Law’ to Help Woman Facing 60 Years for Firing Warning Shot

Justin King | The Anti-Media

Florida’s “Stand your ground law” received national attention when George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot and killed a teen named Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was acquitted of the charges. Even though “Stand your ground” was not used as a defense in the case, the media proceeded to point out that the law would result in a massive spurt of violence. The national networks didn’t explain that the law had been on the books since 2005, and that the data shows it had little or no impact on the per capita murder rate. It was slightly lower last year than in the years before the law was passed. Thumbnail credit: legalinsurrection.com 

While the media discussed the law’s intent, they never discussed the law’s wording, which was a huge problem. Under the 2005 version of the law it was legal to kill an attacker, but not to miss or fire a warning shot. In those instances, the shooter would be facing twenty years in prison if an over-zealous prosecutor chose to file charges.

That’s exactly what happened to Marissa Alexander when she was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot at her allegedly abusive husband. Prosecutor Angela Corey, upset that Alexander would not accept a plea deal for three years in prison, charged her with three counts of aggravated assault for firing one bullet.

Even though Florida statutes require that the person have “intent to commit a felony,” Corey somehow found that Alexander intended to hit three separate people, two of whom were in another room, with a single round. Alexander was sentenced to 20 years. Angela Corey is the same state’s attorney that unsuccessfully prosecuted the Zimmerman case.

An appeals court found that the trial court had acted improperly when it attempted to force Alexander to prove she acted in self-defense, rather than the court proving she did not. She was granted a retrial, but prosecutors on the case decided that Alexander should face 60 years instead of 20, stating that the three counts should be served consecutively. The judge decided to stay Alexander’s trial pending new legislation.

After a public outcry, the state legislature voted to expand the “Stand your ground law” to include warning shots. Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law on Friday. Alexander’s case is under review.

This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Justin King and TheAntiMedia.org

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