07/21/2014 11:34 am ET Updated Sep 20, 2014

Florida Woman Who Fired 'Warning Shot' Denied Self-Defense Hearing


By Susan Cooper Eastman

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., July 21 (Reuters) - A Florida judge has denied a "Stand Your Ground" self-defense hearing to a woman facing charges of aggravated assault after she says she fired a warning shot at her abusive husband.

Marissa Alexander, 33, had hoped the judge would take into account a new law legalizing warning shots signed last month by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Duval County Circuit Court Judge James Daniel denied Alexander an evidentiary hearing seeking immunity from prosecution under the state's "Stand Your Ground" rule, a court clerk said on Monday. The ruling was issued on Friday.

Florida's "Stand Your Ground" rule allows someone to shoot without first attempting to retreat if they have a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury.

The new warning shot law was prompted by controversy over Alexander's conviction and sentencing in 2012 to 20 years in prison under the state's mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines because she fired a gun at her abusive husband during an argument.

Civil rights groups and her supporters drew comparisons to the case of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in 2013 in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman argued he shot Martin in self-defense and the jury was instructed to consider Florida's "Stand Your Ground" rules.

Daniel in June had postponed Alexander's retrial until December to allow time for the warning shot law to come into effect before he examined if it applied in her case.

Alexander's self-defense claim in her first trial was rejected because during the confrontation with her husband she left the Jacksonville house to go to her car and retrieve a gun, which she later fired once into the kitchen wall near his head. (Writing by Barbara Liston; Editing by David Adams and Jim Loney)