No one hurt, yet Marissa Alexander faces 20 years in prison for "Standing Her Ground" in Florida?
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No one hurt, yet Marissa Alexander faces 20 years in prison for "Standing Her Ground" in Florida?

Jacksonville : FL : USA | Apr 19, 2012 at 6:08 AM PDT
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Class, color and the U.S. justice system

Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law came to the forefront after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. Many didn't even know such a law existed.

The 28-year-old self-appointed neighborhood watch captain claimed he fatally shot the 17-year-old high-schooler in self-defense, even though Trayvon was unarmed with only candy and a drink found on him. It took 45 days for Zimmerman to be arrested and charged, for the Sanford police say they didn't have any grounds to keep him in custody and then-State's Attorney Norm Wolfinger had barred them from filing charges. Stand Your Ground was in full protection mode in this case.

Not so for one young woman, who also lives in Jacksonville, Fla. Her story shines a glaring spotlight on the many negatives of this legislation added to Florida's judicial books in 2005 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, brother to former President George W. Bush. To date, 24 other states have followed in Florida's footsteps. A reported 130 instances of Stand Your Ground being invoked as a defense for killing someone have occurred since the law took effect, but only 28 cases went to trial. Of that number, only 19 people were convicted. ( See ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/US/trayvon-martin-stand-ground-laws-scrutiny-florida-shooting/story?id=15988474)

The Jacksonville woman is Marissa Alexander. She has been convicted and is reportedly facing up to 20 years hard time for discharging a gun to scare off her alleged abusive husband. No one was hurt in the process, yet Marissa is sitting in jail.

The Internet is having an outraged conversation on this apparent double standard but the mainstream media is eerily silent on this case. How many more travesties are there out there? How many more casualties of Stand Your Ground?

This seems like the reverse of Trayvon-Zimmerman tragedy. In the teen's case, the law worked well for his killer until an overwhelming outpouring of outrage blanketed Florida and the rest of the country. Special prosecutor Angela Corey said her state doesn't respond to pressure but follows the law to the letter.

Right. We know better. Somehow that same law didn't see fit to arrest and charge the neighborhood watch for shooting a boy in his chest, at point blank range, until "the pressure" was applied.

But in 2010, Corey and Florida saw it fit to arrest and charge Marissa Alexander for discharging her gun at the roof of her home to scare off her husband. She was allegedly protecting herself, for he had been abusive before and was threatening her at the time.

No one was shot or even hurt. She reportedly had a permit for the gun and was Standing Her Ground. Prosecutors based their charges on the premise that Marissa could have retreated through a back door or window if she felt trapped by her husband.

But doesn't Stand Your Ground stipulate that one can stand their ground and use deadly force if they felt threatened or feared for their life and do not have to retreat?

Marissa's ex-husband has created a website to get the word out, fighting to free her. She is a mother of three and was arrested 9 days after her pre-mature baby was born. That baby was still in the Intensive care Unit when she was allegedly confronted by her angry husband.

According to her Ex, Lincoln B. Alexander Jr., who is telling the story on Marissa's behalf, she now sits in the pre-trial Detention facility in Jacksonville, Fla., awaiting sentencing and cannot be with her children. She was charged and convicted of 3 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm.

On August 1, 2010, when the alleged incident occured, Marissa said she was about to leave her abusive husband when he confronted her in the bathroom and began to choke her. She wrote that she ran but while in the garage she realized she couldn't open the garage doors because of a mechanical failure and she had also forgotten her phone and keys. Trapped, she allegedly went back to retrieve them, thinking he had already left because he was on his way out with her two stepsons.

Again, according to Marissa, he did not leave but came back and shouted, "Bitch, I will kill you!" She said he charged towards her, so she took out the gun she had taken from her truck and fired a warning shot towards the ceiling. Her husband supposely ran away then and called the police.

It was then her life seem to fall apart, for the now ex-hubby allegedly told police that she had tried to kill him and the children. Even though she had a restraining order and a filed police complaint of spousal abuse, they still took his word over hers.

So here sits the 31-year-old mother, two years later, convicted and fighting to stay out of prison. Incidentally the State Prosecutor now on Trayvon Martin's case, Angela Corey, also handled Marissa's case. Even though her husband recanted and admitted he was the aggressor, the State still proceeded with the case.

You can learn more on Marissa's case No:2010-CF-8579

Division:CR-G by clicking links below:

CBS Jacksonville News 47

What is really going on in Florida and other parts of America, where Stand Your Ground is part of the law? Is there unequal justice loose in numerous counties and cities?

There is also another case in Georgia where homeowner John McNeil who was reportedly Standing His Ground in his home and warned an assailant not to come any closer. McNeil shot him when that man still charged him. He is now in prison serving a life sentence.

Acording to msnbc, six years ago the McNeils, a Black family, hired Brian Epps, who is White, and his contruction company to build their house. The relationship was a rocky one and Epps allegedly became increasingly threatening. This bad relationship escalated to a fatal shooting on Dec. 6, 2005.

On that fateful day, McNeil's teenaged son had reportedly called him about a strange man lurking in the back yard. When the dad came home, he recognised Epps and told him to leave. He said Epps didn't leave but instead went to his truck for something and came towards him. McNeil told him to leave again and fired a warning shot at the ground. Epps allegedly didn't comply and charged at the homeowner very fast, who then fired his gun a second time, fataly shooting him in the head.

Read the details here:

Rania Khalek detailed the confrontation in Salon:

So wasn't McNeil Standing His Ground in Cobb County, Georgia, where Stand Your Ground is also the law? It is starting to look like Stand Your Ground works only if the shooter is a certain color?

Someone once wrote under one of articles, "Stop using the race card." I will say what a good friend of mine says so succintly, "I will retire my race card, when you put an expiration date on your racism." Has America's judicial system yet to stamp an expiration date on bias and prejudiced practices?

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VeronicaS is based in New York City, New York, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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