TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBS Tampa/AP) — The Florida state prosecutor who charged George Zimmerman with second-degree murder is now looking to put a woman who claimed she fired a warning shot against her husband behind bars for 60 years.
First Coast News reports Marissa Alexander, who had her original 20-year conviction overturned, now faces 60 years in prison as prosecutor Angela Corey seeks to have Alexander serve the three aggravated assault with a deadly weapon counts consecutively, instead of concurrently.
“At this time, Ms. Alexander has rejected all efforts by the State to resolve the case short of trial,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement to First Coast news. “The appropriate punishment will be determined by the jury’s verdict, the applicable law, and the Court.”
Alexander says she fired a bullet at a wall in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. Her conviction was thrown out by an appeals court and a new trial scheduled for July.
The Alexander case has spurred the development of what is being referred to as the “warning shot” bill. Greg Evers, R-Pensacola, has sponsored the bill that more accurately addresses “10-20-life” in self-defense cases. Passed in 1999, the 10-20-life law requires lengthy sentences for specific felony firearm convictions. The judge who sentenced Alexander to 20 years felt he had no choice under the law.
The warning shot changes have the support of lobbyist and former National Rifle Association president Marion Hammer, who has Tallahassee’s most powerful voice on gun laws.
Corey told WOKV-TV that this bill is not needed.
“I’ve actually called the office of the legislator who wrote that bill, and he won’t call me back. So I’m inviting him to call me back so I can explain,” Corey told WOKV. “Because I think he did it because of a certain local case that’s gotten the wrong attention for the wrong reason, and based on tons of misinformation.”
Corey added that this bill’s passage could lead to more violence in the state.
“Where are we gonna draw the line on this? Where are we gonna draw the line on protecting human life from people who don’t have the right to fire?” Corey questioned. “We will always protect our citizens who have the right to fire – our police officers, our homeowners, our store owners who are resisting a robbery – none of them have ever been harmed by Florida’s laws.”
Opponents of the bill agree with Corey and worry they will cause more people to fire shots.
“You’re telling people, ‘I can shoot a warning shot,'” Sen. Christopher Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, said. “‘The Legislature is telling me to shoot a warning shot.’ And that warning shot may not be in the air. … To me, that’s inviting negligence.
“I don’t want to encourage people to shoot more.”
Another prominent bill will be a “stand your ground” tweak with a facet directly related to the Zimmerman trial. The bill is co-sponsored by David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, and Smith.
Local law enforcement would be required to provide guidelines for neighborhood watch volunteers such as Zimmerman was. It would clarify that immunity under “stand your ground” does not apply to injured innocent bystanders.
Smith is adamant about the intent portion of the bill that would give direction for what qualifies as a “stand your ground” defense and what does not.
“We need to let judges know what is a ‘stand your ground’ case,” Smith said. “The NRA has signed off on a lot of my intent language … to give direction to judges what it should be used for and what it shouldn’t be used for. I’m real confident we’ll be getting something out for that.
Hammer is also pushing a bill to keep schools from punishing children pretending to play with guns or wearing clothes with pictures of firearms.
She and the NRA also backs legislation aimed to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against gun owners.
“You cannot discriminate against people for exercising a constitutional right,” Hammer said. “It’s that simple.”
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)