JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Marissa Alexander could face a 60-year prison sentence instead of her original 20-year sentence when her aggravated assault case is retried in July.
Alexander, 33, was convicted in 2012 of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 20 years in prison by Circuit Judge James Daniel under Florida's 10-20-Life law. Daniel imposed three separate 20-year sentences, but ordered that they be served concurrently, which meant Alexander would get out in 20 years.
However, the 20-year sentences could be served consecutively, if she is convicted again.
Alexander contends she fired a warning shot to scare off her estranged husband during an altercation. The state contends she was firing at her husband and missed.
Alexander's conviction was thrown out after the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled that Judge Daniel erred in jury instructions, shifting the burden to Alexander to prove she was acting in self-defense. Daniel told jurors Alexander must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was battered by her husband. She was released on bond Nov. 27, 2013. Daniel ruled on Jan. 10 that Alexander could remain on home detention while she awaited trial.
Alexander sought to invoke Florida's Stand Your Ground law before her original trial, testifying that her husband was emotionally and physically abusing her during the altercation which led her to fire her gun. Stand Your Ground was denied, as the judge ruled that she fired in anger. That denial it was upheld by the 1st District Court of Appeals.
Alexander's new trial is scheduled to begin on July 28.
The case has garnered national and international attention, with much of it focused on the 20-year sentence for a first offense. Both gun rights groups and advocates for battered women have argued the sentence is extreme, but the new trial raises the possibility that it could be much longer. Alexander refused a 3-year plea deal offered by the state before her first trial, choosing to bring the case before a jury. According to a statement from the State Attorney's Office, "At this time, Ms. Alexander has rejected all efforts by the State to resolve the case short of trial. .... The appropriate punishment will be determined by the jury's verdict, the applicable law, and the Court."