Civil Liberties

Marissa Alexander Takes Plea Deal in Florida "Warning Shot" Case; Three Years in Jail, Most Already Served


The Florida Times-Union reports on a not very happy, but not as bad as it could have been, end to the prosecution of Marissa Alexander for firing a gun (and injuring no one) when feeling threatened by her husband.

The details:

Two years after her case generated national attention, the criminal case against Marissa Alexander concluded Monday afternoon with a plea deal that will see her serve three years in prison.

Alexander gets credit for the 1,030 days she has already been locked up. She must serve 65 more days and will return to jail today. She will be released Jan. 27.

Alexander will stay in Duval County Jail. She will not go to a state prison.

State waived the minimum mandatory 20-year prison sentence under the deal….

Alexander also got two years of house arrest. She can leave the house to go to church, doctors' appointments and work…

Prosecutors said Alexander fired a shot in the direction of her estranged husband, Rico Gray, that she called a "warning shot." Prosecutors had said Gray's two children were next to him when the shot was fired, but Alexander disputed that and said they weren't in the room.

She faced three charges of aggravated assault with a weapon, and could have gotten 60 years in prison if convicted….

Alexander was originally convicted in 2012 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The conviction was later overturned on appeal because the judge gave faulty jury instructions.

Jacob Sullum has reported early and often on this case and its implications for justice when it comes to using a weapon in a non-lethal way for self-defense for Reason; see all those clips.

NEXT: Aaron Malin on Observers Defending Protesters and Press in Ferguson

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  1. Sad that she took the deal, understand why she would.

    Angela Corey is an objectively terrible human being.

  2. No white hispanic privilege for her!

  3. Well, that's a fuck job, but better than what she would have faced otherwise. Fuck the prosecutors in the ass with red-hot poker. Hope the rest of your life is smooth sailing, Ms. Alexander.

  4. Not that I condone the god-awful prosecution of this case or disproportionate sentence she had to avoid, but when you fire a warning shot you do recklessly endanger other people since you don't know where that bullet is going.

    In other words the moral of this story: is no warning shots, don't pull the trigger unless you absolutely mean to shoot someone or something.

    1. Well yeah, that's a basic rule of using guns. But it's kind of fucked up to think that she'd have gone free if she'd shot him in the chest, but might go to prison for 20 years for firing a warning shot, isn't it?

      1. This is why I don't get it; we might as well have robots administering our laws, if we're going to so thoroughly dispense with the concept of "justice".

        1. You know who else thought it was a good idea to have robots administer the law?

          1. The Jetsons?

          2. Will Smith, before he figured it all out?

          3. Other robots?

      2. But it's kind of fucked up to think that she'd have gone free if she'd shot him in the chest, but might go to prison for 20 years for firing a warning shot, isn't it?

        Except that she wouldn't have gone free because this occurred after she left the house, got a gun out of her car, went back into the house, and then (allegedly) fired a bullet into the wall near a couch that her son was currently sitting on.

        The issue here is that the punishment was idiotic and disproportionate. However, all's well that ends well since three years is about the amount of time you should get in jail when you recklessly fire a gun in a house your children are staying in.

        It's annoying that Reason seems to consistently ignore the fact that this woman got her gun from the car and returned to the house. That pretty much eliminates any claim of self-defense.

        1. To me that's not the dispositive fact. She had a right to enter and exit the house, right? What's troubling to me is that it's a basic 'he said, she said,' except I imagine the children could testify as well, and I haven't seen anything about them supporting her story.

          1. See, Bo, that's the difference between law and justice.

          2. No. She didn't live there, nor had she in 9 months. She was there without invitation. I hesitate to say trespassing, because there did seem to be some interaction like it was okay for her to be there. But when she left, she did not have a right to return.

        2. What? Reason distort or mislead people by omitting key facts in a case?

        3. Agreed on every point, except you left out one important bit of information. The house was his. She went to his house. She confronted him in his house, not the other way about.

          I was much more sympathetic to her until that little detail slipped out.

          1. Didn't she live with him?

        4. Also, should we just take the word of anyone who fires a gun at another person, but doesn't hit them that it was a warning shot? What sort of behavior would disprove that? The 10-20-Life law is stupid, but this woman and her lover/husband/ex fit the perfect profile of co-abusers. Remember that between the incident and her first trial, the man she shot at had to call the cops again because she confronted and physically assaulted him despite having the standard no-contact order that anyone in Florida gets for a felony assault. So unless Andrew is doing a poor job of communicating that even this woman doesn't deserve 20 years for discharging a firearm in an aggravated assault case, reason has consistently misrepresented this as a woman defending herself against an abuser.

    2. But Biden said that when an intruder comes...

      Oh right.

    3. There was no warning shot. It wasn't self defense. If she had killed him she'd face murder charges.

  5. But a cop can shoot a twelve year old dead and the default position is that it was reasonable.

  6. Three charges of ADW - did they actually charge her with assaulting her children?

    1. No, she just got the 10-20-Life multiplier.

      1. One warning shot at one person does not equal 3 counts of ADW - unless there is some special lawyer-math I am unaware of.

        1. Sorry, they only had to convict her of one to get the 20 year sentence. I was under the impression -- perhaps wrongly that 10-20-Life also forbade concurrent sentencing, so I assumed they only convicted her on one.

  7. OK, this Ferguson grand jury is officially more of a tease than the chick doing the Dance of the Seven Veils.

    1. You know who else was an official tease?

      1. The *Tea* Party?

      2. Lena Dunham's sister?

        1. Today's news on that front:

          "Police in Spain have arrested three priests and one layman on suspicion of child sex abuse, according to the country's interior minister... The Archdiocese of Granada suspended several priests last week after a man wrote to Pope Francis saying he was abused when he was an altar boy...Media reports said the latest inquiry was personally ordered by the Pope, who also telephoned the man directly to apologise on behalf of the church...Spanish newspaper El Pais said all [of the arrested] were believed to be members of the ultraconservative group known as Los Romanones."

          Credit where it is due to Pope Francis, who seems to have personally intervened to try to rectify the situation. Perhaps the Church has learned that the cover up is almost always worse than the crime (at least in PR terms).

    2. They want to make sure that people have a chance to get off work and eat dinner. You know, maximize the number of people that can assemble at night. Because that is pretty much exactly the level of competence we've seen this handled with so far.

      1. Or maybe they're timing this so that people with regular jobs can get home safe before the announcement. The youths are going to be there whatever the time.

    3. You have interesting tastes.

    4. They should wait until the bars close for maximum effect?

    5. I see nothing potentially dangerous in waiting until 8:00 PM to release information about a Grand Jury that could conceivably cause rioting.

      That's just the sort of info that should be released after dark.

      1. Can't let the media film the police's reaction in daylight. Duh.

  8. Now on NPR they're trying to explain how come Bob Hope supported the Vietnam War.

    1. Giving a trigger warning of one of Hope's "homophobic" rants.

      1. "really horrible"

        "tough to defend that"

        1. Did he ask how you get 3 gay guys on a barstool?

  9. Alabama Social Conservatives Want to Bar Abortion Clinics from Operating Near Schools

    "Anti-abortion activists in Huntsville are unlikely to appeal a court ruling from last week rejecting their efforts to block operations of North Alabama's only abortion clinic, but they are now eyeing legislation to achieve the same goal.

    The group's leader James Henderson, executive director the Christian Coalition of Alabama, said Friday an appeal is unlikely, but he will urge area legislators to support a measure that would require a minimum 2,000-foot buffer between an abortion clinic and a school - the same minimum distance that is applied to sex offenders and a school."

    1. The link goes right to the top of these comments. An endless feedback loop?

    2. They just want to make sure the pregnent teenagers get some exercise.

    3. OK, Bo, let me help you out here, here's the link:

      1. Oh, I see you already found it.

        "The protesters have focused on trying to stop the operation of the Alabama Women's Center at 4831 Sparkman Drive, which is located almost directly across from the former Ed White Middle School which is being remodeled as a magnet school site."

        Middle School?!?!?!?

        1. So what?

        2. Well it would be kinda embarrassing having your classmates looking out the school window when your walking into the abortion clinic.

          1. Or better yet. Isn't that your mom.

          2. "teens younger than 15 obtain 0.4%" of all abortions.

            1. Slackers.

            2. What about ages 15 to 17?

              1. Not usual middle school ages, but " those aged 15?17 obtain 6% of all abortions"


            3. Looks like I need to get busy.

  10. Old Navy Responds To Consumer Backlash Over Charging Plus Size Women More

  11. We totally don't know what the Ferguson grand jury will decide, but we *do* know that the governor is urging restraint:

    "Around St. Louis, enforcement authorities were on alert and the Missouri National Guard stood by; political leaders were holding last-minute meetings with community members; and residents, including parents of schoolchildren, were bracing for what might come next."

    1. He's not worried about what the grand jury decides, but what the potential protesters do.

      1. If the guy is indicted they'll riot for joy, and if not they'll riot in anger.

        1. First to the apple store, then to the Nike store, then to best buy. Michael who?

  12. Seems kind of crazy that the prosecutor can waive the mandatory minimum, but not the judge.

    1. The prosecutor has the power to not charge you at all. The prosecutor is probably the most powerful person in the entire justice system. And, the prosecutor is pretty much immune from prosecution even in the event of error, malicious and intentional omissions and errors, and even misconduct.

  13. There's no excuse for being this badly informed about a case that you've supposedly followed. The evidence is pretty clear that she fired a shot at her ex-husband in anger, after going to the garage to get the gun and coming back in. It was not self-defense and not a warning shot.

  14. According to the victim's own deposition, both he and Alexander lived in the domicile where she fired the gun, and she shot in the air.

    1. He also admitted that he and Marissa made up that story to get her out of trouble.

      The facts are that she had a violent temper (she later went to jail for assaulting him). She left the room, went to the garage and got the gun (she could have just left and not come back), came back in and fired a shot in his direction. It was not in the air and we don't need to rely on witness testimony to establish that. Bullets tend to leave holes in things. At least one of the children testified they thought they were about to die.

      This was not a self-defense case. Self-defense was the story she offered to get out of it, but it isn't supported by the facts. Which is why it took her jury only 12 minutes to convict her.

  15. He also pretty convincingly describes a scenario of him threatening her severely in his own deposition. The victim himself, not Alexander. Not sure where most of the above people convinced that she didn't live there and that she, I guess, was just so incompetent with a gun that a shot in the air was of course actually meant to hit and kill him are getting their information from.

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