Judge Delays Hearing for Marissa Alexander

Credit: Creatas

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge on Tuesday postponed a decision on whether to hold an unprecedented second “stand your ground” hearing for a woman who received a lengthy prison sentence for firing a gun.

The Jacksonville judge on Tuesday set a hearing for August 1 on whether Marissa Alexander should be granted a second stand your ground self-defense hearing. Circuit Judge James Daniel also set a new tentative date of Dec. 1 for Alexander’s second trial on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges.

Alexander, 33, was convicted in May 2012 of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 20 years in prison under the state’s minimum mandatory requirements, sparking an uproar from several observers and domestic violence activist groups.

Alexander says she acted in self-defense after her estranged husband beat her. The warning shots were fired near her husband and his two children.

The verdict was thrown out on appeal and a new trial was scheduled for July 28, but Alexander’s attorneys requested she get a second stand your ground hearing ahead of the trial. Her attorneys also asked the judge to take into consideration new state legislation that would allow a person to fire warning shots if threatened. The legislation will become law if Gov. Rick Scott signs the bill.

Another judge ruled against Alexander in an earlier stand your ground hearing, leading to her trial and eventual conviction. Alexander’s attorneys say they have new evidence that might have affected the outcome of the first hearing.

Daniel said a second stand your ground hearing is unprecedented in Florida.

Florida’s stand your ground law says people who are not involved in illegal activity have the right to “stand their ground” and meet force with force, including deadly force, if they reasonably believe it’s necessary to avoid death or great bodily harm.

At an earlier hearing, Daniel said deciding whether to hold a second hearing would be difficult.

“We’re on new terrain,” he said. “Nobody has ever considered this issue about whether you can come back and have another hearing.”