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Aethelflaed's avatar

Are Stand Your Ground laws applied unevenly?

Asked by Aethelflaed (13687 points ) May 17th, 2012

Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old woman in Florida, recently received a 20-year sentence for protecting herself against her abusive husband.

Says Alexander: [Gray] assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave. After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing. I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out. For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit. Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone. He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave. Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave. Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself. I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened. The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Bitch, I will kill you!” and charged toward me. In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling. As I stood my ground it prevented him from doing what he threatened and he ran out of the home. Outside of the home, he contacted the police and falsely reported that I shot at him and his sons. The police arrived and I was taken into custody.

So why did a judge reject her invocation of “Stand Your Ground”, saying she could have left the house?

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10 Answers

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

Without a doubt, and the story you posted (which I first heard about recently), is Exhibit A in why it’s “applied unevenly”. Racial bias plays a role in a lot of uneven application of laws.

Cruiser's avatar

Not enough info. There are other witnesses (her sons) who were in the house when she discharged the weapon. We don’t know what she said or threatened. Judges are not deliberately stupid in these cases and would have to side with the judge especially in light of a 20 yr sentence.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I think these laws were created by persons whose worldview is dominated by constant perceived threat of underclass people attacking them.

The attempt by an underclass person to use this law as a defense would be perceived, in their minds, as absurd. “Everyone knows only white men need to stand their ground against the forces of cultural change. Don’t get uppity trying to use our law crazy emotional woman.”

rooeytoo's avatar

I didn’t know you had to have a law to allow you to defend yourself against an attacker in your own home. I assume the law came to be with the thought of defending yourself against a stranger. No matter what the circumstances however, the law should be applied equally to all.
I never had a gun but always had big dogs and would have had no hesitation to put them on anyone I deemed to be intent on harming me or them. Guess that would have landed me in jail too, crazy world???

ETpro's avatar

It certainly appears that racial bias is heavily at play in the South.

@Cruiser The judge had no discretion in the matter. The charge carried a mandatory 20 year sentence.

Cruiser's avatar

@ETpro I see and agree! Hard to imagine making someone “dance” the way John Wayne could with his 6 shooter when confronting a misbehaving gent would get someone 20 years behind bars.

ETpro's avatar

@Cruiser The courtroom reporters who covered the debacle say that the woman had a court appointed attorney who mounted almost no defense. It;s a screwy law, though. Another Florida man chased a would be house breaker over a block and fatally stabbed him in the back. He walked free for “standing his ground.” But this lady couldn’t even go back into her own house to get her keys so she could leave. Makes no frigging sense.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@ETpro Gloria Allred should step in for the appeal.

ETpro's avatar

@Aethelflaed As I understand Florida Law, there is almost no hope of winning an appeal. That would pretty much require proof of prosecutorial misconduct or prejudicial instructions from the judge, etc. None of this seems to be involved.

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