All Articles Tagged "florida"

Finally! Marissa Alexander Released From Jail

January 28th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: AP Images

Source: AP Images

After four years worth of legal battles and a case that brought national attention to Florida’s problematic Stand Your Ground laws, Marissa Alexander was released from jail on Tuesday afternoon.

She’ll be able to serve the rest of her sentence on house arrest.

Those present in the courtroom broke out into applause when Judge James Daniel announced that he was rejecting the prosecutor’s request for an additional two-year jail sentence and was releasing Alexander to house arrest, or community control.

When issuing his ruling he stated that his decision was “not based on any public opinion of any larger issue of public interest or social concern, but on the specific facts of the case.”

You may remember that at one point, Alexander faced up to 60 years behind bars for firing a warning shot near her abusive, estranged husband Rico Gray on August 1, 2010. Though Gray had abused Alexander on several occasions and threatened to kill her on that particular day, she was unable to convince the jury that she feared for her life.

Though no one was injured in the incident, during her first trial she was sentenced to 20 years in about 12 minutes by a jury. Later, when prosector Angela Corey, the same woman who was the prosecutor in George Zimmerman’s trial, became involved, she sought to sentence Alexander to 60 years.

In November, Alexander pled guilty to three counts of aggravated assault with a weapon in order to get credit for the time she’d already served since her case was first brought to trial. She was sentenced to three years and was ordered to serve 65 days in jail and then two additional years on house arrest.

For the next two years, Alexander must wear a GPS ankle monitor and will only be allowed to leave her home to go to work, job interviews, church, family medical and dental appointments and to visit her children’s schools. Any other locations will require a judge’s permission.

You may remember that Alexander was ordered to pay for her own monitoring device. And with cost being $105 per week, that’s nearly $11,000 for her two year sentence.

Supporters raised the money to help eliminate these fees and a group of pastors offered Alexander a job at one of their ministries if she wants it.

As she left the courthouse, Alexander delivered a statement to her supporters and the media. Here’s what she had to say.

Four and a half years have passed since the events of August 1, 2010, but today, after the sentencing posed by Judge Daniel, my family and I will be able to move forward with our lives. Although the journey has been long and there have been many difficult moments, I could not have arrived here and where I am today without the thoughts–the many thoughts and many prayers–of so many people who have voiced their support and encouragement. Words could never express my gratitude for those who have stood by me, including my children and family. I’m also grateful that Judge Daniel approached this case with such care and diligence. 

I look forward to the full time challenge of getting my two teenagers through high school and into college, as well as preparing my four-year-old daughter for nursery school. My goal is to continue my education, beyond my master’s degree and to continue my professional career. In moving forward, I will continue to learn lessons from the events of the past but I will not live in the past. At the age of 34, life is too short and there is too much that I have to accomplish in the years ahead. It is my hope and prayer that everyone associated with this case will also be able to move forward with their lives.

You can watch Ms. Alexander address her supporters and the media in the video below.

Three Floridian Women Beat 14-Year-Old In School Parking Lot Over Suspension

March 6th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Women Beat 14-Year-Old

My News 13

Most of us were disciplined by our parents if we didn’t do well in school or misbehaved. Unfortunately, three women from Florida took punishment to another level when they beat an unnamed 14-year-old girl because she was suspended from middle school.

According to My News 13, the women, Janine McGhee, 39, Moriyah McGhee, 32, and Ishiyah McGhee, 30, began to slap the teen and shoved her into a car while in the school’s parking lot. Once the women reached their home, the teen attempted to run away but the women caught her. They then proceeded to choke the teen while dragging her into the home. Janine demanded the teen fight her and when she refused, she was forced to undress and the women began to beat her with leather belts so “She would feel the discipline,” the women said.

The teen attempted to flee again but the women caught her and began to assault even further until  the police arrived at the scene. Authorities took the teenager to Florida Hospital Memorial to treat her for skin lacerations and welts.

Janine and Ishiyah were arrested at the scene and Moriyah McGhee eventually turned herself into the authorities. All three were charged with child abuse with the intent to cause bodily harm. Since their arrest, the women have been bonded out of jail. Florida Department of Children and Families has the teen in custody. Information on the relationship between the women and teen remain unknown.

Monday’s Madame: Dana Stanford Thomas, Founder Of Mye-Dash

December 30th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Monday’s Madame: Dana Stanford Thomas

Age: 40MM

Why she inspires us:

Dana Stanford Thomas is a financial expert in the areas of marketing, business positioning, lending and management. She earned her Marketing and Management Degree from the University of North Florida, as well as an MBA from Jacksonville University.

While working as a Business Banker, Dana Thomas heard a speaker give a message that questioned and challenged her life’s legacy. It prompted her to take her love for youth to the next level.

Therefore, her non-for-profit Mye-Dash was born to encourage youths to begin working on ‘their’ dash. ​Located in Orlando, Florida Mye-Dash will equip students with tools and strategies that will broaden their perspective and shift paradigms.  The information they gain will position them to transform their lifestyle and transition their communities into viable havens for entrepreneurship and education. The mission of Mye-Dash has been designed to empower youth (at-risk of becoming financially dependent) between the ages of 11-19, in the areas of financial literacy, community activism, leadership and entrepreneurship.



Twitter: @Mye_dash

Monday’s Madame is a new column on MadameNoire that highlights inspirational women who are doing great things in black communities around the world. If you would like to submit an inspirational woman for consideration, please send her name, age, location, photo, and a blurb about the work she’s doing to



Marissa Alexander May Be Granted Bail As She Awaits New Trial

November 5th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Marissa Alexander, the Jacksonville, Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband will know this week whether or not she’s getting out of jail…at least temporarily.

Judge James Daniel set a hearing for Friday, November 8 at 2p.m. to decide whether or not Alexander will get bail. If she is granted bail, Alexander will be able to to wait for her new trial in the comfort of her own home instead of inside of a prison. The new trial date is set to start Monday, March 31.

Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in March 2012,  has maintained her innocence ever since.

The appellate court ruled that Judge Daniel made a mistake in instructing the jury that Alexander would have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she acted in self defense when she fired the gun, that she was being battered by Gray at the time.

The appellate court says instead that the burden should have been on the prosecution to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Alexander was not acting in self defense, meaning that she fired the gun when there was no threat against herself.

Alexander’s new attorney, Bruce Zimet said that in Marissa’s new trial, the “Stand Your Ground” law will play an important role in the reopened case. Alexander attempted to cite “Stand Your Ground” in the first case but Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt rejected it.

Alexander said the altercation between she and her husband, Rico Gray, started when he accused her of infidelity and asked whether the child she had given birth to a week earlier was his or not.

Alexander was originally granted bail in 2010 after the incident and was released. But bail was revoked when she went to go see Gray in February of 2011 after she had been ordered to stay away from him.

We’re hoping and praying that everything works out in Marissa’s favor this time around, that she is granted bail and her 20 year sentence is ultimately thrown out. Not only does Marissa’s case highlight the inconsistencies and flaws of the “Stand Your Ground” law, it also sends a message to domestic violence victims that if they try to defend themselves they run the risk of winding up in jail for decades while their abuser remains free.


Another Shot At Justice: New Trial Ordered For Marissa Alexander

September 26th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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It looks like Marissa Alexander, the woman who was sentenced to 20 years after firing a warning will have a chance to get the justice that she was initially denied.

The Associated Press is reporting that a Florida appeals court ordered a new trial for Alexander. The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that the judge did not properly instruct the jury handling Marissa’s case. But the appeals court also said that the judge was right in blocking Alexander from using the “Stand Your Ground” law to rationalize her actions.

Which further highlights flaws in this law. If an abusive husband, who already had a restraining order placed against him was in her house threatening her, was not the time to defend yourself, then when is it?

If there was anything good that came from the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it was the fact that it sparked discussion about “Stand Your Ground” and the cases that can and cannot use “Stand Your Ground” as a defense. Even though Zimmerman’s attorneys have said time and time again that this was not a part of their defense, Zimmerman himself was well aware of the law and it prompted discussion about its use and fairness. This is how many of us learned about Marissa Alexander’s case and the outcome of her first trial.

We’ve reported, on several occasions about the unjust incarceration of the Florida mother of three. Alexander was brought to trial and sentenced to 20 years after her then husband Rico Gray physically assaulted her on August 1, 2010, a week after she’d given birth to her youngest daughter. She testified that she escaped to the garage attempting to leave the house but the garage door was not working. She found a gun, which she had a permit for, and went back into the house. Gray confronted her again in the kitchen, charging at her “in a rage.” She fired the gun in the air and was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

And while Zimmerman killed a child and walked away free, Alexander, who had never been arrested before, was incarcerated and has already spent over a year in prison.

Hopefully now that the law has come under attack and we’ve seen the way it doesn’t actually protect anyone, the outcome of her second trial will be different.


He Did What? Rapper Plies Shows Off His Trayvon Martin Tribute Gold Chain!

September 7th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Plies Trayvon Martin tribute gold chain pf"


Whatever you just said to yourself, I’ve already said it. Deal with it and let’s move on. Rapper Plies recently showed off his brand new Trayvon Martin Tribute gold chain.

Rapper have always been known to find their own unique ways to show love, honor and respect to someone or something that meant a lot to them. We know that many of them were deeply affected by the death of Trayvon Martin and the results varied from rap songs in dedication to tattoos in Trayvon’s memory.

Earlier this week, Plies posted a video on Youtube showcasing his new Trayvon Martin tribute gold chain.  In the video, he stated:

“…Wanted to make sure I had the homie around my neck at all times. He impacted my life just that much.  Double salute to the whole Martin family. I wanna tell you rest in peace, homie. I’ma keep you around my neck at all times. It’s just that important to me, man. Trayvon, you’ll forever live on.”

Sure, there’s a lot you can say about this. “Oh, why didn’t he donate some money to the foundation?” “This is stupid.” I’m sure there are valid thoughts and opinions across the board; however, this is what he thought was most appropriate for him.  Plies is not known for intellectual rhymes (he might be the most recent king of ratchet and raunchy music) so I don’t think anyone would expect him to write some deeply moving article or anything (but don’t get it twisted – he’s actually not an ignorant man at all).

That said…I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Check out the video below!

Give Her A Round Of Applause: Florida Teens Becomes Youngest To Pass The Bar At English Law School!

August 4th, 2013 - By MN Editor
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Photo Courtesy of The Telegraph

From Essence

Eighteen-year-old Gabrielle Turnquest has made history becoming the youngest to pass the Bar exam at England’s University of Law.

The Windermere, Florida native took the bar exam alongside her 22-year-old sister Kandi, who also passed, qualifying the two sisters to practice law in the U.K. 

“I am honored to be the youngest person to pass the Bar exams but, really, I was not aware at the time what the average age was,” she told The Telegraph.

According to The University of Law records, the average age of a graduating lawyer is 27 years old–Turnquest completed the program 11 years below the average age. Quite impressive for the teen who plans on returning to the U.S. where she will attempt yet another bar exam to qualify practicing law in her home state.

“I didn’t fully realize the impact of it,” she says seemingly unaffected by the fact that she has just made history.

This may be just a natural progression for the youngster who graduated from the University of Virginia at 16 with a degree in psychology.

Good for her (and her sister)! You can read the rest over on Essence.comTurnquest has many big dreams and so she’s headed back to school in the Fall.  It looks like we’ll be hearing more from this young lady in the future!

Back To Court: Royce Reed Says Dwight Howard Has Taken Their Son…And She Doesn’t Know Where They Are

August 3rd, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Well, it was only a matter of time before these two were back in the media for more antics.

According to TMZ, former “Basketball Wife” Royce Reed has gone to what we assume is a Florida court to ask for an emergency hearing to find her son, Braylon.  Braylon is the son she shares with basketball star Dwight Howard. Royce claims Braylon went to California to visit Dwight but she hasn’t heard from them since he’s been there.

Royce also says Braylon has a medical condition and is out of medicine. According to her, Dwight hasn’t bothered to refill Braylon’s prescription.

In her alleged filing for this hearing, Royce says Dwight’s parents called her at some point to let her know Dwight and Braylon were in Colorado.  Royce is asking that the court order Dwight to refill the prescription so their son’s health won’t be in danger. Further, she wants to know exactly where their son and how she can get in touch with him.

See, this interesting because after a quick search, this popped up on Royce’s Twitter timeline:



Royce’s Twitter Page

So, how can it be that she’s saying she hasn’t heard from him since he got to California when she tweeted that he’d been there for a month and she, in fact, went to visit?  The only possible explanations are: (1) there’s no truth to this filing or (2) maybe the details are a little incorrect.

Many of us who’ve seen Royce on Basketball Wives know she can be a bit dramatic but I don’t think she’d be dumb enough to file a claim like this when there’s evidence on the internet to dispute it.  Not that Dwight couldn’t or shouldn’t refill the child’s medicine but if she was out there, she could have done it too.

A judge has yet to rule on whether or not a hearing is necessary.

Things that make you go hmmmm…

Here She Goes! Lil Mo Questions How Stevie Wonder Would Know Whether Or Not He’s Performing In Florida

July 20th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

While many people are proud of artists like Stevie Wonder and Mary Mary taking a stand by choosing to no longer perform in Florida until the “Stand Your Ground” laws are changed, there are those – one, in particular – who question their actions.

On Friday night, Lil Mo, took to her Twitter page to “call out” Stevie Wonder for his stance and as usual, she threw some shade:



Oh yes, the woman went there about Stevie’s team possibly booking a show for him in Florida anyway and him not finding out the truth because he’s blind. She added that his team has basically dedicated their lives to his career and for him to make that decision, it takes money out of their pockets. Of course, she must have forgotten that Stevie Wonder performs at seemingly every event around the world so not performing in Florida may not kill anyone’s pockets as much as she’d like to believe.

Mo, on the other hand, does not really like to turn down a dollar. If any of you have been watching R&B Divas: Los Angeles, you know that she is very clear on doing almost anything she can just to make some money. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that she might not be a person in this position. As it stands, she can’t be in that position because…well, when was the last time promoters in Florida were booking Lil Mo left and right to perform there?

Girl, I guess.

What do you think about Mo’s take on the Boycott in Florida? What’s yours?

Sorry Florida! Stevie Wonder Boycotting The State Over Zimmerman Verdict

July 16th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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From The Grio 

Florida fans of Stevie Wonder who want to see the legend sing are going to have to go on a road trip for the near future. During a performance in Quebec City, Canada, on Sunday, the Grammy-winning performer spoke out about the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman and announced he would boycott the state.

“I decided today that until the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again,” he told the audience. “As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world.”

Though the “stand your ground” law arguably was not a factor in Zimmerman’s acquittal, it was a much-discussed potential motivation for Zimmerman’s actions on the night of Feb. 26, 2012, when he and Martin had their deadly encounter.

Earlier in his over three-minute announcement, captured by a fan at the concert on YouTube, Wonder asked his fans to join him in the boycott.

“For those that we have lost in the battle for justice, wherever that fits in any part of the world — we can’t bring them back,” he said. “(What) we can do is we can let our voices be heard. And we can vote in our various countries throughout the world for change and equality for everybody. That’s what I know we can do.”

See Stevie’s reaction to the Zimmerman trial  at