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New trial for woman sentenced to 20 years for warning shot

Sept. 26, 2013 at 1:57 PM   |   Comments

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Sept. 26 (UPI) -- A Florida appeals court has ordered a new trial for a woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot to scare off an abusive husband.

Although no one was injured in the August 2010, shooting, State Attorney Angela Corey prosecuted Alexander on an aggravated assault charge that carried a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence because a firearm was involved. The judge in the case said he had no choice but to sentence Alexander to lengthy prison term and Alexander was denied a retrial in a May 2012 ruling.

The First District Court of Appeal ruled Thursday "the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous" and ordered a retrial, U.S. News & World Report said.

"For appellant, she testified, the firing of the gun was the culmination of a year-and-a-half's abuse at her husband's hands," the court ruled. "[T]he trial court improperly transmuted the prosecution's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt into a burden on the appellant to prove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, depriving her of a trial under the correct rule."

Corey -- who has said Alexander turned down a plea bargain that would have limited the sentence to three years in prison -- said in a statement released by her office after the new trial was ordered that Alexander's conviction was thrown out "on a legal technicality."

"The case will be back in Circuit Court in the Fourth Judicial Circuit at the appropriate time," Corey said.

Corey was special prosecutor in the trial of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of second-degree murder at his trial in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Alexander's defense lawyer tried to use the state's "stand your ground" law, but a judge rejected that argument before her trial.

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