We noted here back in November that 34-year-old Marissa Alexander–facing up to 60 years in prison for firing a bullet past her husband’s head and her two step-children–had once again been offered, and this time accepted, a 3-year plea agreement:  UPDATED: “Warning shot” defendant accepts 3-year plea deal. The renewed 3-year plea counted much of Alexander’s time already served, resulting in her release from jail yesterday:  Judge: Marissa Alexander released to house arrest.

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Alexander’s failure to accept a similar agreement in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 shooting led to her conviction and three concurrent 20-year mandatory minimum sentences under Florida’s “10-20-Life” law (§775.082 Penalties; applicability of sentencing structures; mandatory minimum sentences for certain reoffenders previously released from prison).  She earned a re-trial after the appellate court correctly found that there was a substantive defect in the trial court’s self-defense jury instructions.  In the meantime, the Florida law on “10-20-Life”  had changed to require that sentences be served consecutively, so that Alexander now faced a mandatory minimum of 60 years.

Although released from jail, Alexander is required to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet for two years. The conditions of her release restrict her to leaving her home only to go to work, job interviews, church, family medical appointments, and her child’s school.  Any other travel will require judicial approval.

It is notable that Alexander has repeatedly violated previously agreed upon restrictions on her conduct imposed as a condition of release from jail.  Among the many violations of her release terms was an assault upon her husband, to which she would later plead no contest.

Although Alexander and her supporters have long sought to paint her as a “domestic violence victim,” the fundamental facts of the case have always been very straightforward.

Alexander and her husband engaged in a verbal argument, which escalated perhaps to some minimal, perhaps accidental, physical contact.  Alexander left the scene of the argument, went into the garage and into her vehicle, retrieved a pistol, returned to the scene of the conflict, pointed the gun at her husband as he stood beside his two minor children, and fired a bullet past his head and into the wall behind him.  The bullet penetrated that wall into the next room, where it finally lodged in the ceiling.

Alexander then fled the scene, and neither sought the aid of others or reported the incident to the police (her husband would later contact authorities.)  Alexander was later arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, thus qualifying her for sentencing under Florida’s “10-20-Life” statute.  She was offered a three-year plea agreement, turned it down, and was convicted at trial.

We have covered Ms. Alexander’s case extensively here at Legal Insurrection.  A more detailed overview of the essential facts can be found here:  Angela Corey Reminds FL Legislators of Facts of Marissa Alexander Case.

Alexander has repeatedly demonstrated extremely violent, even life-threatening, behavior when angered, and has repeatedly shown contempt for orders of the court and their restrictions on her freedom of action.  It remains unknown, of course, whether these destructive behaviors will continue in the future.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.