An appeal court has just granted a new trial for Marissa Alexander, an African American woman condemned to 20 years in prison for shooting a warning shot in her ceiling during a conflict with her husband in May 2012.
Alexander's lawyers maintained that she fired the shot into her ceiling out of self-defense because her husband physically assaulted and threatened to kill her. No one was actually shot; and no one was hurt. Despite this, as Irin Carmon from MSNBC notes, it only took 12 minutes for the jury to convict her.
If you think giving 20 years in jail to a woman who tried to defend herself and who had no criminal history before her arrest, you are not alone. Marissa Alexander's case received a lot of attention during the Trayvon Martin trial. Many used her story to point to the inconsistent use of "Stand Your Ground" in Florida and how it tends to discriminate along racial lines. Although George Zimmerman claimed self-defense when he killed a black teenager, Alexander wasn't granted immunity using the same line of defense. Strangely enough, Angela Corey was the prosecutor for both cases.
Many activists rightfully protested the outcome of her case and demanded that she be set free.
Not sure if the justice system is guilty of racial bias? Check out this graph or look up this study by Frontline PBS showing that homicides commited by a white person whose victim was black were 354% more likely to be legally found justifiable.
James H. Daniel, the appeal court judge, says that he is giving Marissa Alexander a new trial because "the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous." He maintains that she won't be granted immunity under "Stand Your Ground," but will be given another chance to defend her case.
Marissa Alexander is not a criminal, she's a survivor of abuse. The only thing she is guilty of is being born into a system that discriminates against the color of her skin. Let's hope the jury in her next trial recognizes the truth and that she gets her well-deserved freedom.