Marissa Alexander case

In May 2012, 31-year-old Marissa Alexander was prosecuted for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and received a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. Alexander said that she fired a warning shot after her husband attacked her and threatened to kill her on August 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Marissa Alexander case
DateAugust 1, 2010
LocationJacksonville, Florida, U.S.
ParticipantsMarissa Alexander (accused)
Rico Gray (Alexander's husband)
AccusedMarissa Alexander
ChargesAggravated assault with a deadly weapon (three counts)
VerdictGuilty on all counts

Some time after her conviction, a new trial was ordered. Before the new trial could begin, Alexander was released on January 27, 2015, under a plea deal that capped her sentence to the three years she had already served.

Incident Edit

Alexander was in the home of her estranged husband Rico Gray, when Alexander claimed that Gray threatened to kill her[1] via texts on Alexander's phone. Gray had previously abused Alexander, giving her reason to believe that her life was in danger.[2][3][4][5]

According to Alexander, she tried to escape through the garage, but the garage door would not open.[3] This account was confirmed by Gray in a sworn deposition,[4] although investigators found no problem with the door. According to all accounts, Alexander then retrieved her gun from her vehicle and went to the kitchen. Alexander fired a "warning shot" towards Gray with his children nearby, which hit the wall near Gray at the height of his head, then deflected into the ceiling.[6] The single shot did not injure anyone.[6] According to one source, Alexander had fired the warning shot because of Florida's stand-your-ground law, a law that allows self-defense, such as lethal force, in life-threatening situations, but the court later disagreed.

Trials Edit

Alexander, who had a history of suffering domestic violence from Gray, and had been previously accused of domestic violence herself, and who had recently been released from jail (after having assaulted the father of her child), returned to Gray's house, despite him having a restraining order forbidding her presence at the house, sought self-defense immunity prior to trial but was unsuccessful.[4] State Attorney Angela Corey met with the defendant and offered her a three-year plea deal. Asserting that she acted in self-defense within the bounds of the law, Alexander rejected the offer and took her case to trial.[3] A jury convicted her in twelve minutes,[7] and because of the Florida 10-20-Life mandatory minimum statute, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.[8] Alexander was also required to stay away from Gray as part of a court order.[7]

On September 26, 2013, an appellate court ordered a new trial, finding that the jury instructions in Alexander's trial impermissibly shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense.[9][10] Alexander was released on bail on November 27, 2013[11] and required to stay under house arrest.[12] Corey announced that she intended to re-prosecute Alexander, this time aiming for three consecutive 20 year sentences, amounting to a mandatory 60-year sentence if Alexander is found guilty in a second trial.[13]

Marissa Alexander retained legal and investigative assistance during her second trial that she did not prior to her first trial, including a partner at the law firm of Holland & Knight, private investigator Patrick McKenna, and digital collections and forensics through Capsicum Group.

On January 27, 2015, Alexander was released from a Jacksonville jail under a plea deal that capped her sentence to the three years she had already served. She pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault for firing a shot in the direction of her husband. She also agreed to serve two years of house arrest, wearing an ankle monitor. She will be allowed to work, attend classes and take her children to school and medical appointments. Her case helped to inspire a new state law permitting warning shots in some circumstances.[14]

Criticism of prosecutor Angela Corey Edit

Corey was criticized for her handling of the case by Democratic Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown, who argued that Corey overcharged Alexander and the result of Alexander's case was a consequence of institutional racism.[15] Mariame Kaba, Rev. Jesse Jackson, anti-domestic violence advocates, civil rights groups, and others also supported the call for Alexander's release from prison.[16] Several groups such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the national advocacy group Color of Change petitioned to ask for Corey's removal from this case.[17] NOW called for Corey to resign over the case, saying Corey was "misusing her office and endangering domestic violence survivors."[18] Color of Change stated that they would attempt to collect 100,000 signatures to remove Corey from the case.[17]

Corey has defended herself by saying that she believes Alexander fired the weapon out of anger and not fear, and that she endangered the lives of Gray's two children in the process. Corey said, "She discharged a gun to kill them."[19]

Aftermath Edit

In March 2017, Alexander expressed support for reducing minimum sentencing laws and speaking on behalf of women who suffered domestic abuse. She also spoke in favor of strengthening the Stand Your Ground law with the intent of making it more fair and balanced.[20]

Due to efforts by prison abolitionists such as Mariame Kaba and others to free Alexander, the organization Survived and Punished was created to free women who are incarcerated for defending themselves and their children from intimate partner violence.[21]

References Edit

  1. ^ "Florida seeks triple sentence of 60 years for woman who fired warning shot". Tampa Bay Times. March 3, 2014.
  2. ^ Stacy, Mitchy. "Marissa Alexander Gets 20 Years for Firing Warning Shot". CBS News. Archived from the original on November 23, 2021. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Alexander, Marissa (April 14, 2012). "In The State Of Florida - Marissa Faces 20 Years In Prison". Stand Your Ground Marissa Alexander. Archived from the original on August 13, 2021. Retrieved August 24, 2014.[unreliable source?]
  4. ^ a b c Powers, Kirsten (July 19, 2013). "Prosecuted for Standing Her Ground". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on May 9, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  5. ^ Salzillo, Leslie. "5 More Women Accuse Marissa Alexander's Abusive Husband Of Brutal Abuse". The Daily Kos. Archived from the original on March 23, 2017. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Angela Corey lashes out at critics of Marissa Alexander prosecution". theGrio. May 15, 2012. Archived from the original on October 29, 2021. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  7. ^ a b HLN Staff. "Marissa Alexander: The REAL reason she's behind bars". Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  8. ^ "Marissa Alexander Gets 20 Years For Firing Warning Shot". HuffPost. May 11, 2012. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  9. ^ Alexander v. State, 121 So. 3d 1185 (2013).
  10. ^ Irin Carmon. "Marissa Alexander will get a new trial | MSNBC". Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  11. ^ Morgan Whitaker (July 23, 2013). "Marissa Alexander released from jail for Thanksgiving". MSNBC. Archived from the original on January 7, 2020. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  12. ^ "Florida woman given 20 years for firing warning shot won't return to jail ahead of new trial". Archived from the original on July 3, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  13. ^ Hannan, Larry. "Marissa Alexander's sentence could triple in 'warning-shot' case". The Florida Times Union. Archived from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  14. ^ Susan Cooper Eastman (January 27, 2015). "Florida woman in 'warning shot' case released from jail". Reuters. Archived from the original on June 9, 2021. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  15. ^ "20-year sentence for firing shot sparks outrage". News4Jax. May 12, 2012. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  16. ^ Treen, Dana. "Jesse Jackson visits Marissa Alexander, discusses case with Angela Corey". Archived from the original on January 17, 2021. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  17. ^ a b Nelson, Steven. "Marissa Alexander supporters urge governor to suspend Angela Corey". Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  18. ^ NOW calls for Angela Corey to resign over Marissa Alexander case, Florida Times-Union, March 18, 2014, archived from the original on August 8, 2014, retrieved March 21, 2014
  19. ^ Dahl, Julia. "Fla. woman Marissa Alexander gets 20 years for "warning shot": Did she stand her ground?". CBS News. Archived from the original on November 23, 2021. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  20. ^ Schuppe, Jon (March 23, 2017). "Woman Who Lost Stand Your Ground Case Wants Law Strengthened". NBC News. NBCUniversal. Archived from the original on November 29, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  21. ^ Kaba, Mariame (January 3, 2019). "Black women punished for self-defense must be freed from their cages". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on May 2, 2023. Retrieved June 2, 2023.

External links Edit