The 1st District Court of Appeal on Thursday ordered a new trial for Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for a shot fired during a 2010 domestic dispute.
The appeals court found that a Duval County circuit judge erred in his jury instructions, though it supported the judge’s ruling that Alexander could not plead immunity under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
State Attorney Angela Corey’s office said in a statement that prosecutors are “gratified that the court affirmed the … ‘stand your ground’ ruling. This means the defendant will not have another ‘stand your ground’ hearing.”
Circuit Judge James H. Daniel instructed the jury that Alexander, now a 32-year-old mother of three, had to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that she feared an aggravated assault at the hands of her husband, Rico Gray. The jury convicted her of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which carries a mandatory sentence of 20 years.
The appeals court ruled that Daniel’s instructions put too much of a burden on Alexander.
Alexander testified that Gray had charged her “in a rage” and threatened to kill her. And Gray, 37, admitted in a deposition to beating and choking women, including Alexander.
Daniel was not persuaded that Alexander was in danger.
Alexander’s attorneys said she was grateful for the decision and “expressed her continued confidence in the judicial system’s ability to correct mistakes … (and) her desire to be back with her children and family.”
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