A bill making changes to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is now headed to the Senate floor, after passing its last committee Thursday. One of its ardent supporters is Marissa Alexander—the Jacksonville woman who faced 60 years in prison for firing a warning shot in an alleged domestic dispute.
It’s been about two weeks since Alexander finished serving out her house arrest—thanks to a plea deal. One of her first acts as a free woman: speaking at a Senate hearing about initially receiving a mandatory 20-year prison term for firing the warning shot.
“So, for me, one shot in a 12-minute verdict got me 20 years in my home, concealed weapons license, white collar worker who had just given birth to a 8-month-old, 4 pound, 12 ounce, premature baby,” Alexander said to members of the Senate Rules committee.
Alexander’s case had gone to trial because she couldn’t prove her self-defense claim was justified during her Stand Your Ground immunity hearing. Alexander says she even testified—which she says is unfair.
“Putting a defendant in the position where they have to bear the burden of proof, in my opinion, removes your constitutional right of the Fifth Amendment, which is you do not have to testify,” she added.
Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) feels the same way. So, his bill shifts that burden to prosecutors during the immunity hearing. Opponents argue it’s unnecessary, and goes against the Florida Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that prosecutors shouldn’t have to prove their case twice.
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