Marissa Alexander will still have to go to trial for a second time on charges of assault for firing a warning shot during a dispute with her abusive husband. But in the meantime, a judge agreed to release her Wednesday, just in time for Thanksgiving.
In 2012, Alexander was convicted by a jury of aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in jail after an incident with her abusive husband ended in her firing a shot at the wall. Alexander’s sentence sparked national outrage over the perverse outcomes from mandatory minimum sentences and Stand Your Ground laws. In September, a appeals panel granted Alexander a new trial, holding that the jury instructions erroneously imposed too high a burden of proof on Alexander. The ruling, however, upheld the original decision not to allow Alexander Stand Your Ground immunity, finding she was not justified in firing the warning shot to protect herself.
Alexander will remain in home detention until trial, and is being electronically monitored. She was released in exchange for posting $200,000 bond. As she litigates her case for the second time, she will still be subject to the same 20-year mandatory minimum sentence if convicted.
Many have pointed to Alexander’s case as an example of inconsistent, discriminatory application of Stand Your Ground laws, overly harsh sentencing, and the justice system’s insensitivity to domestic abuse. But Republican lawmakers and the National Rifle Association are exploiting this outrage to advance a Florida bill that would explicitly expand broad Stand Your Ground-like immunity to those who brandish or fire guns in self-defense. Last month, a Florida House committee overwhelming rejected a bill to repeal the state’s Stand Your Ground law, and supported passage of the warning shot legislation instead. The bill has now been introduced in the Senate.