Since news of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s slaying spread across the media, one thing that many have focused on has been Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which allows those confronted by violence and fearing for their life to take potentially deadly action to protect themselves. Because of this law, Sanford police failed to arrest George Zimmerman, the man who admitted to killing Martin, because he claimed he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense.

But while the conversation around Stand Your Ground laws have centered on them being an unfair license to kill, what happens when a person actually stands their ground to protect their life?

For Marissa Alexander, standing her ground has jeopardized her freedom, as the mom of three faces 20 years in prison for protecting herself.

Nearly two years ago, Alexander had just given birth to a newborn baby when she found herself in a violent confrontation with her estranged husband. According to Alexander, her husband had a history of domestic violence and at the time of the confrontation, she had an injunction of protection against him.

On a blog supportting Alexander’s cause, she explains:

In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom.  He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave.  After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing.  I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out.  For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit.  Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.

He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave.  Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave.  Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself.  I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened.  The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Bitch I will kill you!”, and charged toward me.  In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling.

Unfortunately for Alexander, her husband called the police and accused her of shooting at him and his sons, and she was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm, which can carry a 20-year sentence in prison.

Despite her well-documented abuse claims, and her husband’s admission that he was the aggressor, a judge dismissed Alexander’s motion to receive immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground statue and she is currently awaiting trial.

Alexander says that she is a “law abiding citizen” and just wants to tell her story in the hopes of bringing attention to her case.

“A step further and more importantly is in light of recent news, is justice for all include everyone, regardless of gender, race or aristocratic dichotomies,” she explains. ” I simply want my story heard, reviewed and the egregious way in which my case was handled from start to finish serve as an eye opener for all and especially those responsible for upholding judicial affairs.”

Find out more about Marissa Alexander’s story on the Justice for Marissa blog. 

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    I just want to say this is fugged up. If I’m facing 20 years at least let me have the satisfaction of knowing Ike Turner 2.0 got popped by my single bullet.

  • iQgraphics

    i don’t see how it failed black women.
    it just plain failed.
    it’s a stupid law.

    and it does not even apply to zimmerman.
    trayvon was not on zimmermans property. so who’s ground was he standing?

  • I got sense!

    So the loop hole they are going to try and use in this case is the warning shoot she fired. Apparently it’s illegal to shoot a warning shot. If she had just shot him outright she most likely would not have been arrested. So she s being punished for protecting herself and not wanting to kill someone. The over all message that I am getting in this country is shoot (to kill) first, and claim self defense.

  • LemonNLime

    That is exactly what my Mom always told me. Shoot to kill and then claim self defense or else you WILL end up in jail no matter what your story.

  • Rastaman

    One thing we all have to understand here is that prosecutors have always had the right to selectively prosecute and laws like “Stand Your Ground” are defaults for whites and selectively applied for others. Going back to the founding of these United States rights have always been reserved (land holding white males). They are the only group in this country that get the benefit of the doubt everyone else pretty much have to prove their innocence.

    We have to understand that our rights are not guaranteed no matter what they claim in the constitution. We have to constantly be vigilant in reaffirming those rights, let black folks start arming themselves at the rate white folks do and see how quickly these states start cracking down on gun rights and repealing these Stand Your Ground Laws.

  • iQgraphics

    agreed

  • tiffany

    agreed

  • I got sense!

    Well, I guess it’s time to strap up. If whites start being killed and the non-black claims self defense I bet they will look at this differently. I also want to point out that you are 1000% correct about “constantly be vigilant in reaffirming those rights”. Our grandparents and parents did so much work during the Civil Rights era and it seems that many of us have gotten comfortable and as a result we are not doing as well as we did back then in many areas. Even if you argue more people have degrees and more of us are unemployed because those degrees don’t mean anything to the ones doing the hiring. I am so guilty of this and made the decision in 2008 when Barack got into office that I would be more active. I’ve volunteered, been a Big Sister, and small things like that but I really want to get in on some larger scale activities. Things like education, employment, and housing for the black community. If anyone has any links to orgs that are hard core doing things to change our society for the better, please post so that I may participate.

  • Rastaman
  • Dalili

    +4

  • Bee

    Rastaman hit the nail on the head. I can’t add much more, other than this is effed up and not the least surprising if you understand how the system works. Smh.

  • Zaharah

    One glaring question jumps out to me, it seems Mrs. Alexander left the scene, retrieved a weapon and returned to the scene. According to my knowledge of the law, when you leave the scene you have what’s referred to as a cooling off period. If you return to the scene with a weapon, it questions intent. If her husband had followed her into the garage, she could probably claim SYG. Intent is called into question once she left and returned to the scene. Plus why was the husband allowed to be there, since she had an order of protection? There is no question there is disparity in the application of the law for Black people. As unfair as it seems, Mrs. Alexander may have been her own undoing.

  • Tonton Michel

    You make some valid points, there is a lot of information missing here but if she was trapped she has the right to try to get out of the house, if he confronted her again while she was trying to do that she has to defend her self. Given his history and the good fortune that no one was killed it is ridiculous that the prosecutor is going this hard.

  • Zaharah

    @Tonton – According to the blog supporting Marissa Alexander, after the initial confrontation with her husband, she exited the home and entered the garage –which I’m assuming is an attached garage– but she left house, the original scene of the altercation. She entered the garage, retrieved her weapon, left the garage and went back into the house. If she was that afraid for her life, she should have simply stayed in the garage with her gun. Then if the husband came in the garage she could possibly claim SYG if she had to use the weapon. But because she went back into the house after successfully getting away, the law does not allow you to leave the original scene, get a weapon and come back. Plus, she and her husband violated the order of protection, she nor he are allowed by law to be in the presence of each other. She didn’t say he broke in, but it seems he was there with her permission. It is a shame that she is a victim of domestic abuse. I agree seems like the state attorney would give her some consideration, since it was documented. But on the other hand, they probably are looking at the fact that the order of protection/restraining order was violated. I wish her the best. I also listened to the Nancy Lockhart blog radio show and the abusive husband was awarded custody of the infant child and refused Marissa Alexander’s family any access to the child. There is no justice in the case.

  • I got sense!

    No disrespect but you missed something. A direct quote from her blog:

    ” After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing. I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out.”

    She didn’t leave the scene get a gun and come back. The garage is attached to the house not a separate building. She was stuck in the garage b/c it would not open and so the had no choice but to reenter the house and exit through another door. She should have just killed the bastard, but I’m guessing since she had just had a baby a week earlier, murder is illegal, she had a restraining order against him and she was just trying to live not take someone else’s life she didn’t take the shot. The US is about to see a lot more controversial cases because if it’s that easy to kill someone and get away with it, I can see more people killing others and claiming self defense.

  • Tonton Michel

    @Zaharah,

    Now this becomes a matter of interpretation, as I see it she enters a garage, which is part of the home, and can not get out, that makes her trapped in a room with a violent man standing in between her and freedom. She has been beaten and threatened by this man who has been unpredictable in his behavior, even if she did come back with the gun the fact that she was trapped justifies her actions. I do not see her moving from one room to another as a successful escape with the aggressor still in the house. Now a prosecutor could be looking it from the other side through a very narrow view, and I suspect a lot of information on the woman maybe left out, but going on what was stated in this article, and again no one was harmed her treatment by the justice system is cruel. I wish her the best as well.

  • Zaharah

    @ the Clutch – I think it’s a matter of interpretation. I read the article in it’s entirety, plus I listened to the Nancy Lockhart 1/2 hour blog talk radio show. I’m looking at it objectively, and from the POV of the law. Further, the fact that she went outside of the home to the attached garage IMO is having left the original scene of the confrontation. In my intepretation, she left the scene, got her gun and came back inside the house. She clearly states that she got her gun and it appears she got the gun while in her car while in the garage.She could have stayed in the garage, until things were diffused. There is no indication that the husband pursued her into the garage. Clearly, something is missing here; we only have her side of the story. I empathize with her victimization as a victim of domestic abuse. I hope her efforts for an appeal are successful. If she has been unfairly judged, I pray justice is served.

  • Zaharah

    @Tonton – It’s definitely a matter of interpretation. I perceive leaving the house and going to the attached garage as leaving the original scene of the incident. Something is very strange about this story. Why would she go back inside the house, when she has her gun with her in the garage and she’s in her car? She could have locked the car from the inside. She doesn’t indicate that the husband pursued her into the garage. I just don’t comprehend going back inside the house to face this raving, abusive, violent man; when she could have stayed in the vehicle and locked it. Any way you look at it, it’s a travesty. A young woman is separated from her children and is facing a serious prison sentence. It’s very sad.

  • Zaharah

    @Sense – Usually when someone prefaces a comment by stating, “no disrespect” they intend to disrespect. None taken though. I didn’t miss anything. That is my interpretation of the incident and my point-of-view.

  • Rita

    Please explain again how one would go OUT of their home to enter an attached garage. An attached garage is a part of the home.

  • Juanita

    This is so sad, I swear we are living our last days. This women risked her life just to keep from taking another’s, May God watch over her & allow His justice to show past any so called justice provided by man here on earth!

  • au napptural

    This is wrong. Message the congresspeople listed

    http://justiceformarissa.blogspot.com/2012/04/lincoln-b.html

  • Deb

    Correct me if I’m wrong, wasn’t she under the impression he was leaving out the front door,but when she went back into the house he was entering the kitchen alone? Doesn’t sound like he was leaving.

  • Guest

    This is friggin RIDICULOUS! I was just watching one of those crime shows and there was a case where 2 white teenagers who lived on the upper east side massacred some guy in the park. They cut him open and left his entrails hanging out and then filled his body with rocks and garbage. Then they dumped his body in the lake and went home to clean up. A police officer happened to be at their home and saw them covered in blood, but they lied and said they fell down and got bruised up. Then one of them decides to rat the other out and guess how many years they got? SIX YEARS! THESE CRAZY MOFOS ARE WALKING AROUND RIGHT NOW.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1999/01/25/nyregion/second-teen-ager-to-be-sentenced-in-97-stabbing-death-in-central-park.html?_r=1

    Something is really wrong with America’s legal system. I mean 6 years for some white teenagers who massacre a complete stranger on a whim and 20 years for a black woman who fires off a warning shot to someone who she has a protection order against! WTF man? God help this country. This isn’t justice.

  • Pingback: Marissa Alexander Shows How Stand Your Ground Laws Fail Black Women (Participation) « IntrotoCES

  • Zaharah

    @Rita – It’s the same as going outside to your patio or deck.

  • lgb0916

    if you read the “order denying defendants motion for immunity and motion to dismiss” for the Marissa Alexander stand your ground case…youll see a diff picture than what the media and Marissa Alexander are painting. and the fact that she shot the gun where him AND his kids were is even worse. this one is definitely not about race or a miscarriage of justice. and after she was arrested and posted bail,she kept contacting the husband even tho she wasnt supposed to and she went to his house and attacked him.

  • MOVING Up

    Not trying to make it race thing..but is the estrange husband white?

  • MIcNic1

    I think you’re just going out of your way to try to vilanize this woman in your alleged attempts to “side with the law”, as if that in itself is some objective measure of perfection. Laws contains biases just like the people that decide to whom they should apply.

  • Zaharah

    @Mic This is an open forum where we get to express our opinions. I don’t know Ms. Alexander and have no reason to vilify her. If you read my post, you would have seen my comment about the disparity in the justice system for Black people.

  • Kayla Sonergoran

    This is just very disturbing. This deserves national media attention even more because this is an innocent life we could actually save.

    This current court culture is punishing good people while letting bad people free. Its twisted and makes no sense.

    Remind me to never live in an evil state like florida. I mean 20 years for shooting a gun? She was trying to protect her home.

    People always talk about black men, but if you ask me, we black women are at far greater risk of being screwed by the US government.

  • Jean Allen

    I read she used a weapon while in the commission of a felony.

    I don’t understand what felony was she committing. She had a license to carry a concealed weapon, she was in her own home, she asked him to leave, he was in the act of coming toward her even though she warned him. It sounds like she was afraid for her life.

  • Nadell

    “Stand Your Ground” is not made for us….
    Zimmerman’s trial and his acquittal on 7/13/13 proves it.

  • http://twitter.com/Riggerson Richard Riggerson (@Riggerson)

    You’re very right if this substandard prosecution would’ve been more aggressive during the Zimmerman trial, he would’ve gotten some time instead of a not guilty verdict which is a miscarriage of justice.

  • http://twitter.com/Riggerson Richard Riggerson (@Riggerson)

    Riggerson
    you strike as being intelligent, but the garage is attached to the home, she tried to exit through the garage door. The door failed to open she never left the scene, furthermore this woman feared for her life. I want or anyone to honestly tell me who thinks clearly in that sort of crisis, that is why I hate laws like this because some knuckle head who works in some large implemented this joke of a law without analizing other possible scenarios.

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