Local activists plead for a pardon
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Marissa Alexander is a few months into a mandatory 20-year prison sentence in Duval County for aggravated assault with a gun.
Alexander claims she fired a shot into the wall of her house during an argument with her husband to keep him from killing her.
Alexander's case has enraged women across Florida, many of them domestic abuse survivors.
"They're trying to tell us stay quiet or don't do nothing," Wanda Gomez said. "Just let him kill you."
Alexander is the Jacksonville mother the Miami-based group Sisterhood of Survivors are defending. They gathered in Downtown Miami Tuesday calling for Governor Rick Scott to pardon Alexander.
"She's been abused, she's been mistreated," Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindigall, a Miami-Dade school board member said. "It comes a time when you think it's going to happen again, that you don't back away, you don't run away, you're gonna defend yourself."
In her defense, Alexander invoked Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law. A judge threw it out. She claims she was standing her ground, defending herself from an abusive husband. "He saw my weapon at my side," Alexander said. "When he saw it, he was even more upset. That's when he threatened to kill me. I believe when he threatened to kill me, that's what he was going to do."
Alexander didn't kill her husband, Rico Gray. She fired a warning shot into the wall. Gray left immediately. "Had I not discharged my weapon at that point, I wouldn't be here," Alexander said.
The Sisterhood of Survivors and others touched by Alexander's 20-year prison sentence, are fighting on her behalf. They walked in on a meeting with Governor Scott and stood silently with signs that read "Pardon Marissa Alexander."
"Her sentencing has been unjust," Lita Pitman, of the Sisterhood of Survivors, said. "It seems that with women who are threatened with domestic violence, they are often in fear of their lives. They have to also fear, once they go through the criminal justice system, repercussions that are extreme."
The law in Florida stipulates that if you fire a gun, you must serve a mandatory 20-year prison sentence with no chance for parole.
A pardon from the Governor is Alexander's only hope out of jail. "The process you go through is you have to apply through executive clemency," Scott said. "As far as I know, she has not applied for executive clemency yet. It's a process."
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