Tag: Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander Finally Released From Jail

Marissa Alexander walks by her dad Raoul Jenkins and surrounded by her legal team and supporters after her sentencing in Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 27, 2015. (Photo by Bob Mack/Florida Times-Union/AP)
Marissa Alexander walks by her dad Raoul Jenkins and surrounded by her legal team and supporters after her sentencing in Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 27, 2015. (Photo by Bob Mack/Florida Times-Union/AP)

Marissa Alexander, the Florida mother whose case became a rallying cry for anti-racism activists and survivors of domestic violence, was released today after three years of incarceration.

Alexander had faced up to 60 years behind bars for firing a single shot near her abusive husband, unable to convince a jury she had feared for her life. A hearing Tuesday confirmed the terms: Having pleaded guilty to assault in exchange for credit for time served, she will be subject to two years of electronic monitoring and house arrest, except for approved appointments and employment.

Circuit Court Judge James Daniel acknowledged that the case had drawn national attention but claimed 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.”

Alexander’s case has long sparked outrage about the unequal application of the law for both black Americans and women. Alexander was prosecuted by Angela Corey, who was also the prosecutor in the trial of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the February 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin. Corey did not appear at Tuesday’s hearing.

“We are thrilled that Marissa will finally be reunited with her children, her family, and her community,” said Sumayya Coleman, co-lead of the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign. “Today’s hearing revealed that Alexander intends to attend school to become a paralegal and she is a wonderful mother to her children who urgently need her. Amazingly, the State continued their campaign of punishment by trying to add two more years of probation.” But the state didn’t get its way.

In November, Alexander pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault with a weapon in exchange for credit for time served. A second trial had been planned for December, when Corey had planned to seek a 60-year sentence, triple the 20-year sentence Alexander got in her first trial.

The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign and The Monument Quilt wrote on Facebook that “350 quilt squares containing stories from survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault will blanket the Duval County Courthouse lawn to let Jacksonville and the world know Marissa is NOT ALONE.” A fundraiser on Alexander’s behalf exceeded its goals, raising $58,297 from 1,122 backers on the site GoGetFunding.

“We have always believed that forcing Marissa to serve even one day in prison represents a profound and systemic attack on black women’s right to exist and all women’s right to self-defense,” the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign said in a statement after Alexander’s plea deal.

The incident in question took place in 2010, nine days after Alexander, now 34, gave birth to a daughter. Alexander testified that her estranged husband, Rico Gray, had physically abused her several times and that on that day, he threatened to kill her. No one was injured, but a jury convicted her in about 12 minutes.

article by Irin Carmon via msnbc.com

Marissa Alexander Won’t Return To Jail; Judge Says Violations “Unwillful”

marissa alexanderA judge has ruled that Marissa Alexander can remain free on bond after the Florida State Attorney filed a motion claiming that the defendant violated her release conditions numerous times, The Florida Times-Union reports.  Circuit Court Judge James Daniel denied Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei‘s request to revoke Alexander’s bail for “going out shopping for clothes, driving family members to the hair shop and airport, getting a new driver’s license, visiting the bank and seeing a sister-in-law.”

Mantei’s stated to the judge that Alexander, 33, was on home detention while performing her errands. The conditions of her detention prohibit her from leaving her residence except for court appearances, medical emergencies and to satisfy any requirements of her pretrial services program. She has been free on bond since Thanksgiving after getting a new trial in her aggravated assault case for firing a warning shot during an altercation with her husband, Rico Gray.

Alexander’s lawyer, Bruce Zimet, countered the state’s argument by saying that all of his client’s actions were approved by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, which angered Judge Daniel. Zimet said the court ordered Alexander to speak with Jacksonville authorities before making her trips, which they approved without checking with the judge. Since Alexander did not knowingly violate the bond, Judge Daniel saw fit to allow her to remain in home detention.

April Wilson, an 18-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, was present for Friday’s hearing. Wilson approved all of Alexander’s trips, stating in her tearful testimony that her understanding of the court order would allow for these brief stops she made while under house arrest. After today’s hearing, however, it appears that both sides understand Judge Daniel’s orders and will move forward from there.  “I think it was handled how it needed to be handled. The judge is now aware and everybody else is now aware of what was going on. Things got brought out in the open that’s always a good thing,” said Mantei, as reported by Florida Times-Union.

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Home For The Holidays: Marissa Alexander Released On Bail

Marissa Alexander

Around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night, Marissa Alexander was granted a pretrial release with special conditions, according to the Duval County Clerk of Court.

First Coast News reports the conditions of Alexander’s release below:

• Remain under the supervision of the pretrial services program at all times
• Subject to electronic monitoring through the CTC at all times
• Remain on home detention until completion of her case and will be allowed to leave her residence except for court appearances, medical emergencies and to satisfy any requirements of PSP or the CTC
• Report all required court appearances and all required appointments with he PSP or its designated service provider
• Alexander cannot change her residence without prior notice and approval by the PSP or its designated service provider
• Cannot have contact with, nor communicate by any means with Rico Gray, Sr., Pernell Gray and Rico Gray, Jr.
• Alexander shall abide by all court orders in the divorce proceedings involving Rico Gray, Sr., including all orders that pertain to child custody, exchange of child custody for visitation shall be facilitated by a third party
• Alexander shall not possess any firearms, nor shall there be any firearms in her residence at any time during her pretrial release
• Shall not consume any alcoholic beverage or drug not prescribed by a physician
• Must abide by all rules and regulations for the PSP and the CTC including random drug testing
• Alexander shall be subject to warrantless searches of her residence by CTC officers or any JSO officer conducting such a search at the direction of CTC personnel, to ensure compliance with her pretrial release conditions

Alexander’s bond was set at a total of $200,009 for three separate charges.  NewsOne contributor, Attorney and Legal Analyst Eric L. Guster, who can frequently be seen sparring with HLN’s Nancy Grace over high-profile cases, said the laundry list of conditions is standard in a case such as Alexander’s:

“Although [the conditions of release] seem extensive, those are typical stipulations for a person in that situation,” Guster said. “Since she has been found guilty once and now may go to trial again, the court has a duty to protect all parties, witnesses and Marissa herself. Therefore, the requirements of her bond are similar to those similarly situated.”

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Marissa Alexander, Woman Sentenced To 20 Years For Firing Warning Shot in Florida, Gets New Trial

Marissa Alexander new trialTALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida woman serving 20 years in prison for firing a shot at her estranged husband during an argument will get a new trial, though she will not be able to invoke a “stand your ground” defense, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

The case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville mother of three, has been used by critics of Florida’s “stand your ground” law and mandatory minimum sentences to argue that the state’s justice system is skewed against defendants who are black.

The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Alexander deserves a new trial because the trial judge handling her case did not properly instruct the jury regarding what is needed to prove self-defense.

The ruling, written by Judge Robert Benton, said the instructions constituted a “fundamental error” and required Alexander to prove self-defense “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  But the court also made it clear in its ruling that the judge was right to block Alexander from using the state’s “stand your ground” law as a way to defend her actions. That law generally removes people’s duty to retreat in the face of possible danger and allows them to use of deadly force if they believe their lives are in danger.

Faith Gay, one of the attorneys representing the 33-year-old Alexander, said she was grateful for the “thorough consideration” provided by the appeals court.  “We are looking forward to taking the case back to trial,” Gay said.

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