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Woman sentenced to 20 years for firing warning shot

Florida judge rejected controversial ‘stand your ground’ defence.

Image: James Cridland via Creative Commons

A FLORIDA COURT has sentenced a woman to 20 years in prison after she fired what she says was a warning shot at her husband in their home.

Marissa Alexander tried to use Florida’s controversial ‘stand your ground’ law after she was charged with aggravated assault for firing a gun into a wall during an altercation with her husband, the Huffington Post reports. His two young children were nearby at the time.

During her trial, Marissa Alexander argued that she was trying to escape from her husband Rico Gray as he tried to strangle her. She told the court that she managed to run into the garage to flee by car, but had forgotten the car keys. She said that she then took a handgun and went back into the house, where Gray allegedly threatened to kill her and she fired one shot.

Gray has a previous conviction for domestic battery and was given probation for a second charge of domestic battery.

Alexander was also charged with domestic battery – in a separate incident involving Gray which took place a few months after the shooting. The charge led to her bond being revoked over the aggravated assault charge.

A judge rejected her ‘stand your ground’ defence, saying that her return to the house was not consistent behaviour with someone who was in fear of their life, the Florida Times-Union reports.

The same law has come under scrutiny following the unrelated fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

Under Florida law, the minimum sentence for firing a gun during the commission of a crime is 20 years in prison. At her sentencing yesterday, CNN reports that the judge said that he had no discretion under law with regard to that term and sentenced her to 20 years.

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