A woman sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a “warning shot” during an argument with her abusive husband was granted a new trial Thursday in a case involving Florida’s controversial self-defense law.
The aggravated assault conviction of Marissa Alexander, 32, touched off a furor last summer when her supporters compared it with the self-defense case of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17.
No one was injured in Alexander’s case, but because she fired a gun, Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing rules required a 20-year prison sentence.
A state appeals court ruled that Alexander deserved a new trial because the judge failed to properly instruct the Jacksonville jury regarding her claim of self-
defense. Prosecutors indicated they would re-try the case.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” said Michael Dowd, a New York lawyer who has defended domestic violence victims since the 1970s and is representing Alexander.
Alexander’s case received little attention outside Jacksonville until her conviction in May 2012, at the same time the Zimmerman case was in its early stages. Zimmerman shot the unarmed Martin in February 2012 and claimed self-defense.
Under the so-called “stand your ground” clause that was added to Florida’s self-defense law in 2005, people who use deadly force to defend themselves from serious injury — rather than retreating to avoid confrontation — can be immune from prosecution.
The estranged wife of George Zimmerman, the man who was acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting of an unarmed teenager, said in an NBC TV interview Thursday that she now doubted his innocence.
“I think anyone would doubt that innocence because I don’t know the person that I’ve been married to,” Shellie Zimmerman said.
She stood by her husband during the trial in which he was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin in in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense.
The Zimmermans, who separated soon after the trial, were in the news earlier this month because of a domestic dispute.
Shellie Zimmerman said she still believed the evidence in the case and denied that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin before shooting him.
Federal prosecutors said brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen, 37 and 33, respectively, were arrested on misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. They face up to six years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined the Jensens didn’t adequately clean the cantaloupes.
— Associated Press
Three people waiting in the subway in Boston rescued a man who tumbled off a station platform and onto the tracks.
Video shows the man walking straight off the Orange Line platform at North Station at about 9 p.m. Wednesday and falling to the track. Three people, including one from the opposite platform, jump down and lift him to safety.
According to a police report, the man, a 33-year-old Malden resident, said he had two drinks to celebrate passing the medical boards and was waiting for a train home but doesn’t remember anything else.
— Associated Press