Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, was sentenced in Jacksonville under a mandatory minimum law for firing one shot in the direction of a spouse with a record of domestic violence in a 2010 dispute.
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Alexander's case has a twist from the usual "stand your ground" claim: she didn't shoot her spouse. She fired, but didn't hit him.
Her case has drawn immense attention, and gained even more notoriety than it likely otherwise would have, as the state has been gripped by a new debate over self-defense laws in the wake of the Martin shooting earlier this year.
"If we want to protect self-defense in Florida, we can't have a 20-year mandatory minimum hanging over the heads of people who fire warning shots instead of just killing their attacker," said Greg Newburn, Florida Project Director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums.
Newburn will attend the first public hearing of the task force appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to review the "stand your ground" law on June 12 in Sanford, where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer. The acknowledged shooter, George Zimmerman, claimed self-defense, but is now facing second degree murder charges.
Angela Corey, the Jacksonville state attorney and special prosecutor handling the Martin killing, will obviously fight any attempt to use the "stand your ground" defense in that case. And she said it doesn't apply to Alexander, either. Her office had offered a plea bargain of three years, but Alexander rejected it, hoping to convince a jury she had been in fear for her life.
"She got two shots at her self-defense theory," Corey told the Huffington Post on Thursday. "Neither a judge nor a jury bought it."
"It's a pattern we see all across the state," Newburn said. "[Defendants] turn down a plea deal because they think they're innocent…If you're guilty and you know it, you take the plea."
In Friday's sentencing, Judge James Daniel said he had no choice under state law but to give Alexander the 20-year sentence.
"Under the state's 10-20-life law, a conviction for aggravated assault where a firearm has been discharged carries a minimum and maximum sentence of 20 years without regarding to any extenuating or mitigating circumstances that may be present, such as those in this case," he said.
Now Alexander's options are few. She can appeal, which Newburn says she will do. And the governor and Cabinet can grant her clemency – that is, if one of the members of the clemency board can bring up her case, because Alexander herself can't apply until she's served ten years, or half her sentence.
In court Friday, Corey said Alexander's shot could have hit her husband or his children. She told the Huffington Post that Alexander "was angry" when she fired the shot. "She was not in fear."
That's a distinction that Linda Osmundson, director of Community Action Stops Abuse, the domestic violence shelter in St. Petersburg, finds difficult to draw.
"The thing I see they're hanging their hat on is that she was angry," Osmundson said. "Well, wouldn't you be angry if someone was beating you up?"
In the late 1980's, Osmundson was instrumental in Florida's establishing the possibility of executive clemency for battered women who kill their abusers. About 30 women went free over the next 15 years as a result.
"Most of the women killed their abusers in self-defense because they thought they were going to die, or their child was going to die," Osmundson said. "But almost all those women got life sentences."
The "stand your ground" law was passed in 2005.