We just got word from the Free Marissa Now camp that, at a status hearing in Duval County, Florida this morning, Marissa Alexander was granted a new trial date of March 31, 2014. Today’s status hearing was originally reported to have been set for October 29, which was then reported to have since been moved to November 1, and then to today’s date.
Supporters had hoped that Florida State Attorney Angela Corey would drop the case against the 33 year-old mother of three who had been sentenced to 20 years. She had been moved from state prison to Duval County within the last two weeks. Nonetheless, Alexander could be free on bond next week – a bond hearing is set for November 8.
The Movement to End Stand Your Ground supports the movement to free Marissa Alexander, since her case exemplifies misapplication of stand your ground laws. Based upon the case history, it would appear that Alexander originally would have deserved to have been granted immunity from prosecution under Florida’s stand your ground law, but she was denied immunity.
A man serving a life sentence for killing two other men outside a Florida strip club in 2011, then claimed stand your ground immunity, was killed in prison during a fight with another inmate.
Justin Campos, 28, was killed on October 1st during an incident with another inmate at Madison Correctional Institute, near Tallahassee. The Florida Department of Corrections is investigating the incident.
After a night out at a strip club in Fort Myers, on January 19, 2011, three men leaving the club got into a battle of testosterone and cuss-filled insults with two other men in the parking lot. One of the three men, who were in a pickup truck, had enough. He got out of his truck with a weapon, and started to pistol-whip one of the other men, but the gun slipped out of his hand in the process.
Campos, one of the men who had been in the truck, picked up the gun, and the other men ran, but came back and punched Campos’ pistol-whipping friend who had pulled out the gun. Campos fired, killing Juan Miguel Sanchez-Perdomo, 20. and another man, Carlos Deleon-Ortiz, 29, who was walking toward them. Campos and his friends then drove off in the truck.
Campos was later arrested, and claimed stand your ground, maintaining that he shot both men out of fear for his life, but a judge denied his motion at an immunity hearing. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder and manslaughter. In March 2012, he was sentenced to life plus 25 years.
The only legal way to possibly get away with shooting people or alligators in Florida is to claim stand your ground. Unless properly permitted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, it is illegal to hunt, trap, or kill an alligator in the state.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that on October 22, 2013, 68 year-old Alan Abele, of Marion County, heard bumps in the middle of the night coming from the back of his house last week. He grabbed his .357 magnum pistol and shouted that he had a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it, then shot and killed the intruder.
Abele said that as he crept closer to the back door, crouched down and looking around, the intruder crept closer to him. Suddenly, he was knocked into a planter he said. “The next thing I knew he coming at me with his jaws open, so I pulled the trigger with the gun barrel about 3 inches from the side of his head.”
It was a 6-foot long, 200-pound alligator. A Florida Wildlife Commission spokesperson said that while gator attacks on humans are extremely rare, and more likely if the creature feels threatened, Mr. Abele “clearly had no other choice.”
With only a bruised arm, Abele feels lucky to be alive and said, “It was one of those times where you could say that ‘stand your ground’ really applied.”
This article was edited in June, 2016 to include the date of this incident and link to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Related articles
Union-busting, fighting Obamacare, backing the Stand Your Ground laws that led to Trayvon Martin’s death, hiding proof of climate change… there’s nothing the American Legislative Exchange Council won’t stoop to.
The public outcry against ALEC has caused nearly fifty corporations to drop out over the past several months. But now Facebook, Google and Yelp are looking to reverse that trend.
The companies recently joined a group responsible for some of the most egregious anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-poor, and anti-minority legislation in the past decade. Now, we need to raise a cry to show them that getting in bed with ALEC is unacceptable, before all the hard work over the past year is undone.
We can’t afford to have three major tech companies help finance a monstrosity like this right-wing lobbying group, and they can’t afford the bad press that comes with an ALEC membership. ALEC has become a toxic brand that image-conscious companies don’t want to be associated with.
ALEC worked in close conjunction with the NRA to push the controversial Stand Your Ground law onto dozens of states. ALEC helped private prison companies enact Arizona’s “show your papers” law in order to fill up cells with Latinos. It has sponsored a host of horrific legislation that is tearing down personal rights and handing over money to corporations. We simply cannot allow such practices to be condoned by major companies.
Our voices already shamed over fifty companies and nonprofits, including the likes of Amazon, Walmart, and Coca-Cola, into dropping the American Legislative Executive Council. Just recently, after months of pressure by students, Sallie Mae left the group. But if we don’t speak out now, Google, Facebook, and Yelp could start back the movement of corporate funding into ALEC.
Anyone thought it was just Florida? Florida’s “stand your ground” law has reportedly been invoked 200 times since the state passed the statute in 2005, but it’s most infamously associated with Trayvon Martin’s 2012 slaying as he walked to his father’s house in a gated community on a rainy February evening.
Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, and Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis were listed on the original panel, and attorneys for both women have confirmed with this website that they are still scheduled for the hearing. A bipartisan cross-section of proponents and opponents of stand your ground laws are also expected to testify on the panel.
Florida State Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) has confirmed that a highly-anticipated hearing before the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on a bill filed in August – SB 4003 – calling for a full repeal of the state’s notorious “stand-your-ground” law, will take place in Tallahassee on November 7th. Stand your ground law opponents, including the young activist group Dream Defenders, are expected to attend the hearing.
WFSU broke the news that Williams, during a stand your ground forum held Thursday at his alma mater, Florida A & M University, said that he’s looking forward to the first week of November. The hearing on SB 4003 was originally expected to be held in October, but, due to other commitments, Williams, the author, would have been unavailable to attend.
WFSU also confirmed the repeal bill hearing with committee chairman Matt Gaetz’s office. Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) has been infamously quoted as saying he will not change “one damn comma” in the state’s stand-your-ground law. And so far, most efforts to change the law have been blocked.
Florida’s stand your ground law is now under fire on three fronts. A bill was recently approved by the Judiciary Committee that combines elements of two separate bills filed by Senator David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) and Senator Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale), creating guidelines on deadly force and self-defense for neighborhood watch groups.
That legislation, SB 130, still has to go through the Criminal Justice, Community Affairs, and Rules Committees. The Williams bill, SB 4003, would still have to go to the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee and Judiciary Committee.
Also, Senator Dwight Bullard (D-Orlando) filed a bill on October 15 – SB 270 – that he says would “tie up loose ends” in SB 130, and includes a provision affecting injury to bystanders. The new Bullard bill would limit stand your ground law to instances in which the attacker commits an overt act that leads the person who is attacked to believe it’s necessary to meet force with force, and immunity from civil and criminal liability for use of deadly force would not apply if the person injures an innocent bystander .
In an interview with WFSU, Bullard voiced concerns about loopholes and how the term “aggressor” is used in the language of SB 130, and said he wants to make the law clear that an aggressor “is someone engaged in an overt act of violence, such as brandishing a weapon…but, it would also again switch up that aggressor language so that one could not be provoked and then upon provocation, choose to defend themselves, and then the person who did the provoking is able to use deadly force—that little loophole is what led to the unfortunate acquittal of George Zimmerman,” he said.
WJXT-TV, Channel 4 in Jacksonville reports that a Florida judge has ordered Marissa Alexander to be transferred from state prison in Marion County to Duval County, which should take place within the next two weeks. A status hearing on her case is set for October 29. Bruce Zimet, her attorney, plans to file a motion for a bond to be set as she waits for a new trial. Prosecutors had until October 16 to file the request for a new trial.
The station reports that the Florida Attorney General’s office issued a statement saying they have no intention of dropping the charges, and that the office will “continue to pursue justice for our two child victims and their father who were endangered by the shot the defendant fired at them”.
The Jacksonville, Florida mother of three who shot into a wall in the heat of an argument turned 33 years old on September 14, serving a 20-year sentence behind bars for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life statutes, anyone who pulls a gun during the commission of a crime gets a mandatory 10-year sentence. Firing a gun during a crime draws 20 years.
The appellate court reversed her conviction on September 26, ruling that jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous, and ordered a new trial. But there won’t be another stand-your-ground hearing. In a stand your ground immunity hearing before the last trial, Marissa was denied immunity, and the appellate court affirmed that ruling still stands.
State Senator Dwight Bullard had sent letters to three members of the governor’s cabinet In August, requesting that Marissa be granted a pardon and released from prison. Supporters had hoped she would have a chance to go before the board when they met September 25.
Unfortunately, Marissa is not on any schedule or agenda for the Florida Clemency Board this month, and it is yet to be seen if or when she could be scheduled to appear. Under Florida law, a person must serve at least half of their sentences before they can get clemency.
Her story starts in September 2009, when Marissa, a software engineer and divorced mother of then-8 year-old twins, was dating an admitted woman abuser named Rico Gray. She was attacked and beaten by him so badly she was hospitalized. Though she got an injunction for protection against domestic violence, the couple got back together, and were married six months later.
Marissa went to live with her mother during the last few weeks of a pregnancy. On July 22, 2010, she gave birth to a premature baby girl. On the evening of July 31, nine days later, she left the newborn at the hospital, went to the couple’s home in Jacksonville, and stayed overnight.
The next morning, August 1, Gray arrived at the house with two of his sons, aged 9 and 13. The argument started when she gave Gray her cell phone so that he could see pictures of their new daughter. Then she went to use the bathroom. In the phone he found text messages from Marissa to her ex-husband, Leonard Alexander. Gray got suspicious about the baby’s paternity, which started an argument. Marissa claims he broke into the bathroom, pushing, choking, and threatening to kill her.
Marissa said she pushed past him and retreated to the garage. She claimed that the garage door would not open, and that she had left her keys in the house, causing her to go back inside. In either case, she grabbed her handgun from the glove compartment (the gun was legal, and she had a concealed-carry permit) and went back inside.
Marissa claimed Gray told her, “Bitch, I’ll kill you”, so she fired a warning shot. But according to the court order denying her motion to dismiss, she had pointed the gun in the direction of “all three victims” — Gray and his two young sons — and fired a shot “nearly missing [Gray’s] head.”
Gray who has admitted to abusing “all five of my babies’ mamas”, reported that before Marissa went to the garage, she had said, “I got something for your ass.” When she came back in with the gun, he put his hands in the air. After the shot, he ran out the front door with his sons and called 911.
“She said she’s ‘sick of this sh*t,’” he told the dispatcher. “She shot at me, inside the house, while my boys were standing right next to me. Lord have mercy.” Marissa never called the police, perhaps thinking she would be protected under stand-your-ground law.
But prosecutors claimed Marissa fired the gun out of anger, and not due to fear, which is necessary to claim stand-your-ground. She claimed the garage door wouldn’t open, but police found that it would. She had an avenue of retreat (she didn’t have to – stand your ground relieves that duty) but instead went back into the house with the gun.
Marissa had several legal missteps during and since the incident that brought about her sentencing, say prosecutors, who contend the major ones were declining a plea deal that would have given her a 3-year sentence, and disobeying court orders to not have any contact with Gray – 4 months after getting out on bond for the shooting incident, she went to Gray’s house to get him to sign papers about insurance for their baby, and they got into another fight. She was arrested again – on domestic battery- and entered a plea of no contest.
In her appeal, Marissa maintained that the trial court abused its discretion, by giving instructions to the jury that incorrectly put the burden on her to establish – beyond a reasonable doubt – that Gray was committing or about to commit an aggravated battery when she fired the shot.
Marissa had never been arrested before the shooting, but did stupid things, with very serious consequences. Whether her initial iniquity was out of anger or fear should be irrelevant now. Perhaps it could even be said she has paid it forward to society by opening valuable discussions on stand-your-ground laws and on domestic violence, from which our society has learned lessons, and that Marissa can productively evolve back into this society of which she is a victim of.
Imagine acting in a movie about a stand your ground case, and months later your own child is unjustifiably killed by someone claiming immunity under stand your ground law. That’s exactly what happened to Lucia Mcbath.
Mcbath, a professional model and actress, is the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, gunned down in Florida by 46 year-old Michael Dunn during an argument over loud music. She and the teen’s dad, Ron Davis, have been advocates for changes to Florida’s stand your ground law.
Mcbath has a small role in a new movie, “Stand Your Ground: A Cry For Justice“, where she plays the fictional Mrs. Reymundo, a grieving mother and the wife of a man named Juan Reymundo. Not much is known about her small part. But much is known about the death of Mcbath’s son, Jordan Davis.
On the night after Thanksgiving 2012 (just months after filming wrapped up), as an SUV full of teenagers was parked at a Jacksonville gas station, Michael Dunn parked next to them and got into an argument with Davis as rapper Chief Keef blared from the SUV’s sound system. Dunn didn’t like the music, and started a shouting match with Davis. Then he opened fire, claiming he feared for his life. Davis, in the back seat, was the only one shot, and died on the scene.
The “Stand Your Ground” movie is a courtroom drama based on a true story of faith and a journey experienced by Jackie Carpenter, a Georgia woman, as she fights to free her son, Jason Veitch, from charges of felony murder and other charges. Veitch was defending private property in 2008 when he accidentally shot and killed Gaston Gonzalez, suspected of stealing construction materials. Veitch was later cleared of all charges.
Lucia Mcbath has endured and will continue to endure her own personal journey through stand your ground law as the trial of Michael Dunn approaches early next year.
Here’s a trailer for the movie, scheduled for a limited theatrical release January 17, 2014:
Statement issued by the family of 17-year-old Darrell Niles regarding the court decision on stand your ground immunity hearing for Shannon Scott (courtesy WISTV.com):
“As a family, we have waited patiently, quietly and painfully for the last three years. We even remained silent, painful, yet hopeful during the Zimmerman case. We did not come this far not to receive justice for Darrell. We know that there is nothing we can do to bring Darrell back, but we will now speak on behalf of all innocent bystanders.
We were present in court every day and heard every statement. We are appalled by the judges decision. The 4 teenagers that testified on Shannon Scott’s behalf, gave 4 different stories. After each of their testimonies, it was revealed that each of them changed their stories from three years ago (statements were read aloud in court).
Please, please, please understand that there are so many details being left out. Kudos to Todd Rutherford for being a good lawyer. However, Shannon Scott’s roommate and his girlfriend testified that Shannon came into his room, grabbed his gun without telling them to get down or about any threat and immediately walked outside shooting. They testified that the first shot was close to the house and happened immediately after Shannon went out of his front door. They said the second shot was far off. This matches the statement (read in court) given by the shooter in the car of so called “women thugs”. She said she wanted the person that was shooting at her to know that she also had a gun, so she shot back.
As Rutherford mentioned on WIS news, the young lady did give a statement to police stating that she was going to shoot Shannon’s house up, but Rutherford failed to mention that her sentence ended in “after someone shot at me, but my friends talked me out of it.” She felt the need to defend herself.
Prior to this case, Shannon had no knowledge that the girls planned to shoot at his home. He found out in court and Mr. Rutherford capitalized on it in his closing statement to paint a picture that did not happen. Even the 911 call made by Shannon’s wife, at the time girlfriend, which was played in court said, “there is a white SUV full of girls parked at Allstate”. She stated that Shannon heard her say this. So, how did he end up shooting a red Honda that contained two boys?
The young man riding with Darrell also testified that Shannon shot first. He saw him walk out and start shooting. He also testified of a second shot that was far off. The 911 call gave details on where the girls were (parked at Allstate…a few houses down and two the right of Shannon’s home) and pictures revealed where my Darrell’s car ended (pictures shown in court….like two houses down and to the left of Shannon’s home). That doesn’t make for an off shot. That makes for bad judgement.
Shannon also testified that he saw the vehicle that posed a threat come down the street with it’s headlights off. Pictures shown revealed that Darrell’s headlights were on. Nonetheless, this man was shooting at kids.
Yes, teenagers can pose a threat and we understand wanting to protect your child, but by any means necessary and without judgement?!? There was a sign at his home that said, “Shoot first. Ask questions later.” He did exactly that. Regardless of what his lawyer wants people to believe, Shannon shot first. He created the biggest threat and took an innocent bystanders life. He shot at a car that had the windows up (pictures shown in court). That is not standing your ground.
We understand that the stand your ground law has caused an uproar in our nation at this time, but we do not feel as if it is applicable to this case. We hope and pray that the Supreme Court would allow this case to go to trial. We are confident in the facts. Not the painted picture of Rutherford, who helped write the stand your ground law. Thanks to everyone in support of justice in this case. We thank you. We solicit your prayers. One thing is for sure, facts do not lie!!“
It was after midnight, on April 18, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina. Darrell Niles, 17, a basketball player at Keenan High, only wanted to make sure a group of girls made it home from a club OK after a Saturday night out. He got into his 1992 Honda to follow the girls home. But he didn’t make it home himself.
Shannon Scott, 33, got a call from his 15-year-old daughter, one of the girls. She said they were being threatened by a group of other teens – (described in testimony as “women thugs”) – and that they were following her.
When Scott’s daughter and her friends got to his house, he reportedly told them to get to the kitchen, on the floor, as gunshots were allegedly fired at the home. Then, Scott came out armed with a .380 caliber gun, opening fire on the first thing he saw.
Darrell Niles, who was not armed, was shot and killed instantly as he sat in his car across the street. Scott, from his home, was shooting at where he presumably thought the shots at his home had come from – Darrell Niles’ car.
A report by thestate.com said Scott had a “Shoot First” sign hanging in his window at the time of the shooting. Was he one of millions of itchy-fingered undercover vigilantes? He didn’t immediately take responsibility when Darrell Niles was the fourth young man found dead in a car in Columbia during the first four months of 2010, although this one was right across the street from his home. Scott turned himself in and was arrested three days later, on April 21.
Now, over three years later and after a three-day immunity hearing before Judge Maite Murphy, Scott is free of all charges, successfully claiming stand your ground immunity, under South Carolina’s version of stand your ground law – the state’s 2006 Protection of Persons and Property Act. Scott claimed he was defending his family. Prosecutors plan to file appeals with the state Supreme Court.
His attorney is South Carolina State Representative Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia). More disturbing may be the fact that this case may be the first time in the United States that someone who killed an innocent bystander is not charged with their death – and the first time due to stand your ground – setting a dangerous precedent for future bystander shootings by someone claiming stand your ground.
Rutherford argued at the immunity hearing that someone can’t be expected to shoot straight in a life or death situation.
Under South Carolina’s law, people have the right to use deadly force against an assailant. However, the law doesn’t specifically say a person using deadly force can kill a bystander by mistake and be immune from any criminal prosecution.
A senate bill in Florida , which just gained Judiciary Committee approval last week, would limit the aggressor’s (immune person’s) liability only to the victim, but they could still be charged with a bystander’s death.
A “collateral damage” stand your ground bystander incident in Florida killed 9 year old Sherdavia Jenkins as she played outside her home in 2006, caught in the middle of a shootout over drugs. The shooter claimed stand your ground. At trial, a jury rejected second-degree murder and attempted murder charges (he was later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 5o years).
This issue must be addressed now – in every state that has self defense laws, particularly as it pertains to shooting and killing or injuring a bystander from within your own property.
The loopholes that exist within each state’s SYG self-defense laws vary from state to state, and there are several subtle but very dangerous avenues for a conspirator or perpetrator – whether intentional or not – to take advantage of the law, though they could still be charged with a bystander’s death.
At the very least, stand your ground laws must be changed, because the utmost utterly disturbing fact in all of this is something Scott’s attorney, Todd Rutherford pointed out during the immunity hearing: Darrell Niles was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.