While the nation's eyes are on the growing demonstrations around the country over the George Zimmerman verdict—a case that had an abundance of reasonable doubt-- an enormous injustice has slipped through the national radar.
This is the impossible story of an African-American woman, Marissa Alexander, a 32-year-old mother of three, who is now serving a 20-year sentence in a Florida jail for the “crime” of firing a warning shot to scare off her threatening and abusive husband.
Yeah, you read that right.
The Alexander case reads like a nightmare of circumstances that you are sure you will soon wake up from. Only you never wake up, because the nightmare is real.
Alexander was convicted a little over a year ago by a Florida jury that ultimately sided with prosecutors in deciding Alexander’s actions were not in self-defense-- even though she didn't hurt a soul.
As reported on the MSNBC Web site, her sentencing fell under the technical guidelines of what’s known in Florida as the “10-20-Life” law, which requires that any crime committed with a gun earns the perpetrator a minimum ten-year sentence.
If the firearm is discharged, the convicted receives a 20-year minimum sentence, and if shots fired from the gun injure or kill anyone, the minimum sentence is 25-years to life.
Here’s what allegedly happened, according to a report on the CNN news site:
“Alexander said she was attempting to flee her husband, Rico Gray, on August 1, 2010, when she picked up a handgun and fired a shot into a wall.
“She said her husband had read cell phone text messages that she had written to her ex-husband, got angry and tried to strangle her.
“She said she escaped and ran to the garage, intending to drive away. But, she said, she forgot her keys, so she picked up her gun and went back into the house. She said her husband threatened to kill her, so she fired one shot.
“’I believe when he threatened to kill me, that's what he was absolutely going to do,’" she said. "’That's what he intended to do. Had I not discharged my weapon at that point, I would not be here.’"
“Alexander's attorneys tried to use the state law that allows people to use potentially deadly force anywhere they feel reasonably threatened with serious harm or death.
“But a previous judge in the case rejected the request, saying Alexander's decision to go back into the house was not consistent with someone in fear for her safety, according to the Florida Times Union newspaper.
“A jury convicted Alexander in March and Judge James Daniel denied her request for a new trial in April.”
She hurt nobody, and got 20 years.
Like I said, a nightmare.
If the Governor of Florida decides to commute Alexander's sentence or at least help her get a new trial, I have no doubt that the country-- blacks and whites-- would back him up.
Now, where are the demonstrations for Marissa Alexander?