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Florida domestic abuse case draws wide attention; woman plans appeal

Marissa Alexander is a slender woman who stands just slightly over five feet tall. Her husband, conversely, is a 245-pound man. In a 2010 incident, Alexander fired a handgun into a kitchen wall in the couple's home, which she stated was a "warning shot" to make her husband back away from her. Alexander said that he was moving toward her in a threatening manner.

In fact, Alexander's spouse did have a previous domestic violence conviction for attacking her. That fact did not persuade a Florida jury to acquit her, however, in a subsequent trial in which prosecutors stated that the shot Alexander fired endangered both her spouse and the couple's two children.

Instead, and in just slightly over 10 minutes, the jury brought back a guilty verdict of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Under Florida law, the sentencing guidelines applicable to Alexander required a state judge to sentence her to 20 years in prison.

Advocacy groups against domestic abuse are vigorously protesting the trial outcome. Those groups include the National Action Network, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP. Spokespersons for those organizations argue that Florida's so-called "10-20-Life law," under which Alexander was sentenced, operates in a discriminatory fashion toward Alexander and other black Americans. They are asking state governor Rick Scott to pardon Alexander.

Alexander plans to appeal her conviction

Source: The Republic, "Florida woman jailed for firing 'warning shot' at husband to appeal," Amy Wimmer Schwarb, May 30, 2012

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