All Articles Tagged "Marissa Alexander"
After spending over 1,000 days behind bars, the Florida woman who was sentenced to twenty years in prison for firing off what was said to be a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband, has been released from prison. And thankfully, just in time to spend Thanksgiving with her family—including her youngest child, whom her attorney says has been without her mother for the first three years of her life.
According to First Coast News, Marissa Alexander was released on $200,000 bond Wednesday night at 10:30 pm. The Duval County Clerk of Court says Alexander was granted a pretrial release with special conditions. If you recall, though Alexander merely fired a warning shot and no one was injured during the incident, she was charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, which resulted in a mandatory 20-year sentence thanks to Florida’s “10-20-Life” law. The 2012 conviction was overturned this past September when a judge ordered a retrial after finding that an unfair burden was placed on Alexander’s defense to prove that she fire the shot in self-defense.
The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign released a celebratory statement acknowledging the Florida mom’s release on Thanksgiving morning.
“Words cannot express the relief and joy of everyone in the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign that Marissa Alexander is home with her family this Thanksgiving Day,” organizers wrote
“We are thrilled that Ms. Alexander will be able to prepare for her new trial amid the support and love of her children and family from whom she has been separated far too long,” the statement continued.
This is great news for Alexander, who has been experiencing major difficulties regarding bond hearings. We’re thrilled that she was able to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Her new trial is set to begin March 31, 2014.
Earlier this month, we mentioned that Marissa Alexander, the woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her husband, had a chance at a new trial. And then we learned that her attorneys were fighting to get her released on bond while she waited for that new trial.
Yesterday, Judge James Daniel refused to make a decision about whether or not Marissa would be able to be released on bond. Daniel said he would rule later on an unspecified date.
He said in court, “I’ll get to this as soon as I can,” claiming that he has 50 other cases in his docket.
According to Jackonsville.com, State attorney Richard Mantei argued Alexander should stay in jail and not be released on bond because she still poses a threat to Rico Gray, her estranged husband. Alexander was originally released on bond after the incident between she and her husband occurred in August 2010. She was ordered to stay away from her husband. But she violated the judge’s orders and went to see Gray and beat him in the face. She pled no contest and was sentenced to time served.
For this reason Mantei believes Alexander, if released, would repeat this same behavior. But Alexander’s attorney, Bruce Zimet, argued that his client should be granted bail because Gray sent text messages to Alexander asking if he could still have sex with her.
This information may seem completely unrelated, but Alexander’s attorneys argue that if he is attempting to have sex with her, he is no longer afraid of what she might do to him if released.
Zimet also said that if bond were granted Alexander would stay away from Gray, observe a curfew from dusk til dawn and work as a custodian at the Justice Faith Chapel Church of God.
While Judge Daniel is refusing to make a ruling, his indecision means that Alexander will have to go back to jail in the meantime.
Alexander’s next pretrial hearing is set for January 15 and her new trial will take place March 31.
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.
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.
After a series of protests done across the country since the “Not Guilty” verdict of George Zimmerman, according to Reuters, lawmakers in Florida plan to hold hearings this fall to re-examine the “Stand Your Ground” laws in that state. The “Stand Your Ground” law allows those who fear for their life (whether the threat is truly deadly or not) to use deadly force to defend themselves rather than trying to move away from the situation. It has received major criticism for being unfairly applied and was put front and center during the Zimmerman trial. An announcement was made on Friday by Will Weatherford, the Republican speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives who said that after receiving a barrage of calls, letters, emails and responses from everyday people, as well as celebrities, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama, he wanted to give people a chance to express their views and see what changes could possibly be made. According to the Huffington Post, Weatherford wrote an op-ed about the law and the public outcry, but it’s not yet clear what exact date the hearings will start and end:
“Across Florida, representatives are receiving calls, letters, visits and emails from constituents with diverse opinions on ‘Stand Your Ground. Passions are high, but every person has the right to express their views on this matter of great importance.
Our evaluation of its (the law’s) effectiveness should be guided by objective information, not by political expediency.
Does the law keep the innocent safer? Is it being applied fairly? Are there ways we can make this law clearer and more understandable?”
While some say violent crime has decreased since “Stand Your Ground” laws were enacted in different states, others say it’s racially biased. According to Reuters, a recent poll found that “a strong majority of white voters and men support the laws, while black voters generally oppose them and women are almost evenly divided.” I agree that a major conversation needs to be had about “Stand Your Ground” laws, especially after the case of Marissa Alexander, who received 20 years just for firing a warning shot at a wall at her abusive husband, and tried to use “Stand Your Ground” only to be rejected. When does it work? And more importantly, who does it work for? Fingers crossed that this will bring some real change.
Legal analysts are arguing that the George Zimmerman verdict was no surprise based on Florida’s strict “Stand Your Ground” laws. And though the verdict seemed to be a “no-brainer” for the jury assigned to George Zimmerman’s case, things didn’t play out so well for Marissa Alexander.
Last year, we reported about Marissa’s case and the open letter she’d written requesting justice. Alexander, a 31 year old black woman also living in Florida, was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year for shooting what she described as “warning shots” into a wall during an altercation with her husband. Alexander had a protective order against her husband who had a history of being abusive. No one was injured during the shooting but Alexander was sent to prison.
Alexander was convicted under Florida’s “10-20-Life” law which set minimum sentence for crimes committed with a firearm. The 1999 law requires that any gun related crime earns the assailant a ten year minimum sentence. If the gun is fired the assailant will receive a 20 year minimum sentence and if the gun injures or kills someone, the minimum sentence is 25 years to life.
Since Zimmerman’s acquittal, people are starting to ask questions about Alexander’s conviction.
Angela Corey, Florida’s state attorney, who oversaw the prosecution of George Zimmerman and also tried the case against Alexander defended the sentencing when it was handed down a year ago.
Corey told the Florida Times-Union: “When she [Alexander] discharges a firearm in the direction of human beings, the legislature says it’s dangerous. And one of the reasons is because the bullet went through the wall where one of the children was standing. It happened to deflect up into the ceiling, but if it had deflected down it could have hit one of the children.”
Alexander’s attorney argued self defense just like Zimmerman’s defense team but when her attorney tried to have her case retried under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Circuit Court Judge James Daniel denied it.
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around all of this. The racial disparity seems to be the only difference between Alexander’s conviction and Zimmerman’s acquittal. Oh, that and the fact that Alexander didn’t harm or injure anyone and Zimmerman killed a teenage boy. It’s disgusting.
Hopefully, Zimmerman’s acquittal will yield to something good in that someone revisits Alexander’s case and either reduces or eliminates her jail time.
A few weeks ago we told you about Marissa Alexander, a Florida woman facing a 20-year sentence for what she considers standing her ground. In a 2010 altercation, Marissa fired a warning shot in the air in fear of her life when her reportedly abusive husband cornered her in the home. Though no one was shot or injured during the shooting, Marissa was charged and convicted on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and her case is quickly coming to a close.
Initially, Marissa was offered a plea deal of three years but decided not to take it, and during her first trial, she was denied protection under the “Stand Your Ground Law” when her husband said he “begged and pleaded for my life when she had the gun.” It took a jury 12 minutes to find her guilty. Prosecutor Nick Lake said following the hearing:
“The jury decided she was not in fear when she fired the gun. She went back to his house, alone, and committed a domestic battery on him (ex-husband).”
On Thursday, Marissa went before the judge in a pre-sentencing hearing and when her lawyers requested a new trial it was denied. Now, on May 11 she will stand before the judge again to be sentenced. Under the state’s mandatory sentencing guidelines, she faces a 20-year prison sentence with no chance of early release. Knowing the odds, Marissa’s lawyer has said he plans to file an appeal after her sentencing. In an interview with CNN, Marissa told Gary Tuchman:
“This is my life I’m fighting for. If you do everything to get on the right side of the law, and it is a law that does not apply to you, where do you go from there?”
Check out the full clip of her interview segment here. Do you think Stand Your Ground should apply to Marissa?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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After seeing the effect public outcry and activism had in the Trayvon Martin case, a black Florida woman is pleading for support as she faces a 20-year sentence for firing a shot in the air with a gun she had a permit for and was trained to use after her husband assaulted her—i.e., standing her ground.
JusticeforMarissa.blogspot.com is the site where Jacksonville resident Marissa Alexander’s story is being told via Lincoln B. Alexander, Jr., and according to the site, the following events which occurred in August 2010 led to Marissa’s current situation:
“My name is Marissa Alexander, I am a mother of three children, but at the present time, I am not able to be with them due to the following circumstances. I am currently sitting in the Pretrial Detention Facility in Jacksonville FL, Duval County awaiting a sentence for three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm. Before my life changed drastically on that August afternoon, I was in the perilous position of leaving an abusive relationship with my husband who has history of violence and documented domestic abuse towards women. Our history included one which required me to place an injunction for protection against violence and was active during the month of August 2010.
“In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom. He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave. After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing. I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out. For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit. Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.
“He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave. Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave. Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself. I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened. The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Itchbay I will kill you!”, and charged toward me. In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling. As I stood my ground it prevented him from doing what he threatened and he ran out of the home. Outside of the home, he contacted the police and falsely reported that I shot at him and his sons. The police arrived and I was taken into custody.”
Beyond the account of that day’s event, several concerns about the why the stand your ground law was not applied in this instance were outlined, including:
- In November 2010, Marissa’s husband, who was arrested for domestic violence twice—once in an altercation that sent Marissa to the hospital—admitted in a sworn statement that he was the aggressor and threatened her life.
- Marissa’s injunction against her husband and admission that she was in fear of her life prior to the arrest was ignored.
- After a hearing in July 2011, a judge denied Marissa’s motion, saying that she could have exited the house thru the master bedroom window, front door, and/or sliding glass back door, despite the fact that the law specifically states: No duty to retreat.
- Under Florida’s 10-20-life sentencing guideline, Marissa’s felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to harm carries a twenty year mandatory sentence.
The idea that firing a warning shot in the air in self-defense without harming anyone has placed Marissa in this predicament has caused her family to ask people who hear her story to send letters of support to Judge James Daniel pleading for justice in her case. For more details you can also check out her website here.
What do you think about this case?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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