Marissa Alexander’s Sentencing Evokes Tears, Calls For Reform
1 year ago
Florida mother of three sentenced to 20 years in failed “Stand Your Ground” case
The battered mother, who drew national attention after seeking protection under Florida’s controversial self-defense law, was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.
Marissa Alexander, 31, was convicted in March for firing a gun near her estranged husband, whom she claimed abused her repeatedly during their short marriage.
Judge James Daniel gave Alexander the mandatory minimum allowed by state law, but not before hearing tearful testimony from members of her family, including her sister and eldest daughter. Although one observer told Loop 21 that Daniel appeared unmoved by the family’s testimony, the judge said he was bound by Florida law to assign the stiff sentence.
Nonetheless, the decision outraged those at the courthouse, who believe Alexander’s case amplifies problems in the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law and “10-20-Life” felony sentencing guidelines. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, activists have rallied around a seemingly uneven application of the self-defense law.
Many felt members of her family suffered the biggest loss in Alexander’s case. Her sister, mother, brother, cousin, pastor and children were present to offer words of support.
Eleven-year-old Havalin Alexander, Marissa’s daughter, was permitted to speak in support of her mother, despite it being against protocol to allow a defendant’s children at sentencing proceedings, her father told Loop 21.
“She talked about how she felt about the domestic violence (Marissa) had to deal with,” said Lincoln Alexander, who was present in the courtroom with his daughter and her twin brother.
“She talked about her mom in general, what she means to her, how much she loves her, the things that she’s missed…that she hasn’t been with her for 435 days,” Lincoln said.
During the hearing, members of the civil rights activism group Dream Defenders stood up and sang, “We who believe in justice cannot rest, until it’s won.” Daniel had a handful of them removed from the courthouse, said Lucky Thomas, a member and Florida A&M University student.
Thomas said State Attorney Angela Corey attempted to address the family in a courthouse hallway after the sentencing, but the family was overwhelmed with tears.
Corey and Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) capped the emotional morning for the Alexander family with a heated exchange outside of the courtroom.
“Three years is not mercy and 20 years is not justice," Brown told Corey, referencing a plea deal that had been offered to Marissa before her trial earlier this year.