Florida woman in gun case may land back in jail

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 07, 2014 4:31 PM

By Susan Cooper Eastman

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida woman released on bond, after a public outcry over the 20-year prison sentence she got for firing a "warning shot" during an argument with her abusive husband, may soon be headed back to prison.

The state attorney filed a motion late on Monday asking a Duval County Circuit Court judge to revoke bail for Marissa Alexander, 33, and return her to jail as she awaits retrial for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The motion says Alexander defied her court-ordered home detention 10 times between December 6 and 10.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Friday, after which Alexander could immediately be put back behind bars.

The Alexander case ignited widespread controversy and protests from civil rights groups last year when her supporters compared it to the self-defense case of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of killing black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Although no one was injured in Alexander's case, the court gave her a 20-year prison term under the state's mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, because she had fired a gun during the alleged assault.

Under Florida's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law, people who use deadly force to defend themselves from serious injury - rather than retreating to avoid confrontation - can be immune from prosecution. But Alexander's "Stand Your Ground" claim was rejected because during the confrontation with her husband she left the house to go to her car and retrieve a gun she later fired near his head.

Slightly built and just 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 meter) tall, Alexander said her 245-pound (111 kg) husband, Rico Gray, was about to attack her when she fired the lone gunshot into a kitchen wall during the August 2010 incident.

Gray had previously been convicted of domestic violence, and, at the time of the shooting, Alexander had a concealed weapons permit as well as an active restraining order against her husband.

A state appeals court ruled in September that Alexander was entitled to a new trial because the judge failed to properly instruct the Jacksonville jury about her self-defense argument. She was convicted in May 2012 and freed on bail in November.

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The motion filed against Alexander on Monday reports that she shopped for clothes and ferried family members to places such as a hair salon and the airport at a time she was barred from leaving home except for court appearances and medical emergencies.

It also claims she made trips to a bank, to get estimates for car repairs, shop for new eyeglasses and apply for a driver's license.

"Defendant neither sought nor obtained permission from the court for any of the above," the motion stated. Alexander's attorney Bruce Zimet did not respond to email or telephone requests for comment on the motion.

(Editing by Tom Brown and Gunna Dickson)