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View Diary: Stand Your Ground? Black Woman Fires Shot Gets 20 Years - White Man Kills And Goes Free - WTF (100 comments)

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  •  2 white men are serving 20 for same "crime" (23+ / 0-)

    as Marissa Alexander. In all three cases, a warning shot was fired because the shooter believed she was threatened; no one was hurt; no property was damaged. So that's an equal opportunity travesty of justice.

    All three -- Marissa and the two men now in prison -- refused plea deals that would make them felons. I believe the problem lies in prosecutors' overreach and misconduct. And about the juries... those leaves me speechless.

    “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” ― Chief Seattle

    by SoCalSal on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 10:48:51 AM PDT

    •  That was supposed to be... (4+ / 0-)

      "believed s/he was threatened" :(

      “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” ― Chief Seattle

      by SoCalSal on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 10:50:28 AM PDT

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      •  Do you know anything about the cases? Were (4+ / 0-)

        they also cases where the threat was pretty clear, and where it was so clearly a warning shot?  (Her husband says the gun was never pointed at him.)  If so, that's two more lives wrecked by Florida's apparent inability to run a decent justice system.

        --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

        by Fiona West on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 01:58:34 PM PDT

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    •  Believing you are threatened (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Robobagpiper, SoCalSal

      isn't the standard. It's whether the threat crosses the bar to serious bodily harm or death, and the members of the jury believe that they would feel threatened similarly in that situation.

      I agree that the sentence is over-the-top extreme, but Florida has mandatory sentencing for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. If you show a weapon while you're committing a felony, it's an automatic 10 years. If you fire it, it's an automatic 20.

      Ms. Alexander retreated, went to the garage to get a gun from her car, and then reinserted herself into the altercation. That's when she committed assault with a deadly weapon. If she had the weapon on her or already in the kitchen, and grabbed it and fired, she likely would not be where she is today.

      •  I wonder if her children were in the house. Does (6+ / 0-)

        a parent have to retreat (or be guilty of assault) even if it means leaving the kids with a man who has a history of violence and is talking crazy?  "If I can't have you, nobody can."  

        I agree too that the sentence is over the top.  It makes me feel sick.  Mandatory sentencing for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony seems pretty reasonable in the abstract,  but damn, it comes out damned near random in practice, as far as any relationship to justice.

        From what her husband says, it was so obviously a warning shot, not an attempt to do harm.

        --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

        by Fiona West on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 01:48:26 PM PDT

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      •  when someone (7+ / 0-)

        has picked me up and throwed me out of the house before, I think that an exectation of serious bodily harm exists.    Much more real than Zimmerman's fear of a kid.

      •  No. She tried to leave through a locked garage (4+ / 0-)

        and was unable to because she did not have her keys. Her only way our was past him through her own house which he refused to leave.

        The law says she did not have the obligation to retreat. It was HER house and he was an intruder against whom she'd had a restraining order.

        If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

        by rhetoricus on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:33:40 PM PDT

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        •  There seems to be a dispute (0+ / 0-)

          about whether the garage was locked, and honestly, I am unsure about the details, having to rely on news reports (as does everybody else talking about it). Was it padlocked, deadbolted? If it was merely an inoperative overhead door, it could probably have been opened manually. Whatever the case, the jury obviously didn't believe her story - a jury apparently composed of three men and three women, one of whom was black, so I'm not at all sure there is a racial bias component - and came back with a verdict in twelve minutes.

          You're right, the law says she doesn't have to retreat, but she did so, and then came back into the fray after obtaining her firearm, which transforms her into the aggressor. I think this is the main point where her defense fails.

          There is also the physical evidence. She said she fired a warning shot into the air, but the bullet entered the wall at head height, passed through and lodged in the ceiling.

          It doesn't help her case that she also pleaded no contest to an assault charge of her own, while she was out on bail from this charge. She disobeyed a judge, went to Gray's house and in the altercation, gave him a black eye. I agree with the general perception that her husband was a total ass - a serial domestic abuser, whom I think the world would be better off without, but you can't shoot at somebody unless you are under an immediate threat.

    •  Exactly, I think it's more sexist than (2+ / 0-)

      racist because women are more likely to seek less deadly means of confrontation. Still it was equally applied to the men. I believe if she had killed her attacker, no charges would be filed.

    •  Jury deliberated for 12 minutes. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leslie Salzillo

      They apparently did not think this was a close case.

      Worth noting, she left the house (safely) went to her car... got her gun, and came back to the house.

      I'd say that'd probably make anyone's self-defense case a little difficult.

      •  too bad that statute can't take into account (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal, Leslie Salzillo

        battered woman (person) syndrome.

        She felt stuck there with him and couldn't leave. The threat was ongoing, historical, and documented in the husband's deposition statement.

        She felt constantly threatened not just in that moment. IT was an exaserbation of the ongoing state of things. Most battered spouses/partners especially with dependant kids feel trapped and many are economically trapped in a relationship that is violent.

        Her case is a perfect example of the drawbacks of mandatory sentencing. There were extentuating circumstances that made the threat feel constant not just in the very moment it happened. For her, leaving the room did not diminsh the threat...as she'd see him again.

      •  NO. (8+ / 0-)

        She tried to escape via the garage, the garage door was locked and she did not have her keys. In order to escape, she had to go back through the house and past the guy who had already beaten her severely in the past, and against whom she had a restraining order. The guy was threatening to kill her, and she was trying to get him to back off so she could leave. (Which, according to Florida's law, she had no obligation to do, since it was HER house.)

        Oh and, she'd given birth nine days before. She was a mother terrified of a proven abuser who threatened to kill her.

        If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

        by rhetoricus on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:31:28 PM PDT

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        •  Both her kids testified against her (0+ / 0-)

          They were both present during the incident.  The physical evidence was also inconsistent with her story.  She appeared to have fired the gun directly at him, when her sons were standing next to him no less.

          •  Odd, I wonder what the actual physical evidence (0+ / 0-)

            ..showed. The report was that she fired into the ceiling.
            Kids should not be asked by one parent to testify against another parent, especially if one of the parents is a documented abuser, as this guy was (it's possible they were afraid of HIM if they did not testify as he insisted).

            If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

            by rhetoricus on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 09:06:11 PM PDT

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          •  The fact that her husband - her abuser - said (0+ / 0-)

            she meant no harm to him, did not point the gun at him,  and that he was, in fact, going after her - should have put this case to bed.

            This is so f-d up, on so many levels.

            Meanwhile three children are left with an abusive father and a mother sentenced to jail for so long, they'll be adults by the them she's released aside from any parole. Thus, my blood begins to boil again. And what's worse is feeling this type of injustice is probably more common than not.

            "In this world, hate has never yet dispelled hate. Only love can dispel hate." ~ Buddha

            by Leslie Salzillo on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 11:03:54 PM PDT

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            •  INjustice (0+ / 0-)

              Leslie, did you read this link to Families Against Mandatory Minimums in my earlier comment? Here's another link, to the FAMM blog entry about the five persons who were sentenced 20 years for firing warning shots that injured no one.

              These are five people who refused plea deals because they believed so strongly that they were in the right in firing warning shots. We don't know how many people accepted plea deals, agreeing to a felony charge.

              It seems that in Florida, someone is more likely to go free on SYG for shooting and killing someone, but will get a 20 year sentence or felony plea deal for firing a warning shot. Those laws must be changed.

              FAMM has plenty of stories on mandatory minimum sentences that will make your blood boil. It seems to be a good foundation and website for info and action items around the country.

              “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” ― Chief Seattle

              by SoCalSal on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 03:42:37 AM PDT

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