Without retrial, battered Florida mother unlikely to benefit from self-defense law
Although eerily similar to the explanation George Zimmerman gave Florida authorities within hours of shooting Trayvon Martin, the following words aren’t his:
“I was fearing for my life and that's why I fired.”
They are actually a plea for lenience from Marissa Alexander. She’s the Jacksonville mother of three, sitting in jail and awaiting a minimum 20-year prison sentence for defending herself against her estranged husband, who has a well-documented history of domestic violence.
A judge will likely decide Alexander’s fate this week.
Her lawyer, Kevin Cobbin, says his client’s ordeal sends a troubling message to victims of abuse and to those concerned about uneven application of “Stand Your Ground” laws.
“This case says, sit there and take your beating,” Cobbin told Loop 21, over the weekend. “If you try to defend yourself, the abuser becomes the victim and (the state is) going to help him to get you incarcerated.”
Alexander, 31, endured strangulation, beatings, and hospitalization, including an incident causing the premature birth of her youngest child, Cobbin said. The abuse happened over the span of a few years, before Alexander decided to use deadly force in defense against her attacker.
In the prosecutor’s assessment, the victim in question wasn’t Alexander. The man at the center of the battered woman’s on-going nightmare, Rico Gray, is the alleged victim. Loop 21 contacted Gray, who refused to be interviewed without compensation.