After nearly three years in jail, Marissa Alexander is finally going home.
The Florida woman, who was arrested in the spring of 2012 after she fired a gun at her husband and his two sons, agreed to a plea deal Monday, sentencing her to three years in prison for aggravated assault with a weapon. Because of time already served, Alexander will officially be released from Jacksonville's Duval County Jail on January 27. As part of the deal, Alexander must still serve two years of house arrest, though she will be permitted to go to work, attend church, and visit the doctor when needed.
This was Alexander's second trial. During her first, she rejected a similar plea deal and was sentenced to 20 years in prison under Florida's strict 10-20-Life mandatory minimum sentencing statute, which carries the slogan "Use a gun, and you're done." Her initial conviction was later overturned on appeal because the original judge botched the jury instructions and dubiously placed the burden on the defendant to prove she acted in self-defense, instead of only having to prove "reasonable doubt concerning self-defense.”
If Alexander had been convicted again, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey would have sought three 20-year sentences to be served consecutively, instead of concurrently, as was the case with her original conviction.
Alexander's case gained widespread attention after the 33-year-old mother unsuccessfully invoked the same "Stand Your Ground" law that saw George Zimmerman go free after he killed Trayvon Martin. Meanwhile, Alexander didn't even injure her husband, who she claimed she shot at in self-defense. Their starkly different fates led many to wonder if in fact Florida's controversial law — which allows individuals to use necessary force if they believe they are in danger — is racially biased.
Alexander's nightmare is far from over. "The plea deal is a relief in some ways, but this is far from a victory," Alisa Bierria, of the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign, said in a statement. "The mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years, and then 60 years, just made the state’s prosecution increasingly shocking. But we have always believed that forcing Marissa to serve even one day in prison represents a profound and systemic attack on black women’s right to exist and all women’s right to self-defense.” (Jacksonville.com)