Stand Your Ground Legal Update
As we at LA’s Morning News continue to follow the developments of the Trayvon Martin murder case, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law is coming under more scrutiny. Last week, a woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a gun in the direction of her abusive husband.
A Jacksonville judge rejected Marissa Alexander’s defense citing the “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force in a case where a person is attacked or believes his life or safety is in danger.
Stand Your Ground History
The controversial law, first enacted in Florida and now in effect in more than 20 other states, has come under growing criticism after the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman (pictured).
Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, claimed in court that she fired a warning shot into the ceiling of a house after her husband threatened her and moved in her direction. The husband was not hit. The judge said Alexander could have escaped the situation instead of firing her gun.
Florida’s minimum-sentence guidelines require Alexander to serve 20 years in prison because a gun was fired in the incident. A U.S. Congressman, the local chapter of the NAACP and an advocacy group opposed to minimum prison sentencing guidelines have all rallied behind Alexander, calling her sentence harsh. Representative Corrine Brown of Florida, who attended the sentencing, issued a statement criticizing the prison term.
“If women who are victims of domestic violence try to protect themselves, the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law will not apply to them,” she said.
“Just minutes before the incident, Marissa’s husband told her ‘If I can’t have you, nobody is going to have you.’ Millions of abused women have heard those words.”
What do you think of the law, and how do you believe the judge should rule in the Trayvon Martin case? Should George Zimmerman go to jail, or was he justified in shooting Martin in self-defense, as he claims, under the Stand your Ground law?
Feel free to comment below, or send me a Tweet @philhulett