Florida Woman Stood Her Ground Against Spouse–and Got 20 Years


As Florida reviews its “stand your ground” law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing, Marissa Alexander on Friday received a 20-year sentence for firing a shot in what she claims was self-defense and her backers say was a case of her standing her ground, reports the News Service of Florida. Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, was sentenced in Jacksonville under a mandatory minimum law for firing one shot in the direction of a spouse with a record of domestic violence in a 2010 dispute.

A judge had rejected Alexander's “stand your ground” defense, saying she could have escaped instead of firing. Florida courts have often recognized a common law doctrine that says when someone is acting in self defense in their home, they don't have a duty to retreat to first. Alexander's case has a twist from the usual “stand your ground” claim: she didn't shoot her spouse. She fired, but didn't hit him. Her case has drawn immense attention, and gained even more notoriety than it likely otherwise could have as the state has been gripped by a new debate over self defense laws in the wake of the Martin shooting earlier this year.

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