In Florida, New Trial Granted to Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander (screenshot via CNN)
Marissa Alexander (screenshot via CNN)

On Thursday Marissa Alexander, 31, was given a second chance by an appellate court, which ordered that she be granted a new trial. According to CNN, Alexander's case will be retried largely because the jury in her original trial was given the wrong instructions.


Alexander was sentenced in March to 20 years in prison for aggravated assault with a firearm. She fired off shots in the direction of her husband and children, claiming that the shots were to scare off her allegedly abusive husband. The jury was originally told that Alexander had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her husband was trying to harm her in order to validate her claims of self-defense. It took them 12 minutes of deliberation to determine that she was not in danger and thus did not fire the gun in self-defense.

Those instructions to the jury were wrong, said the appellate court. The burden was on the prosecution to prove that Alexander was guilty of aggravated assault. "Because the jury instructions on self-defense were fundamental error, we reverse" the conviction, a three-judge appellate panel said, according to CNN.

Alexander's case got heightened exposure largely because of her pretrial immunity hearing, where she claimed that she was immune from all charges because of the "Stand your ground" law, which was widely discussed during George Zimmerman's trial. The judge at that hearing said Alexander's decision to go back into the house nullified her claim because it was not "consistent with someone in fear for her safety."

Read more at CNN.

Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.