Alexander agrees to a plea deal that has her serving three years in prison for pleading guilty to all three counts against her. Alexander gets credit for the 1,030 days she’s already spent in jail, so she will spend 65 more days incarcerated and will be released on January 27, 2015. Under the terms of the plea, she will have an additional two years under community control, or house arrest, with a monitor.
Circuit Judge James Daniel rules that prior domestic abuse allegations by former girlfriends of Marissa Alexander’s husband will be admissible in her December retrial. Alexander’s attorney, Bruce Zimet:
We think she was justified in using the actions that she did on the day in question.
Rico Gray, Marissa Alexander’s estranged husband, testifies that he doesn’t remember a domestic violence arrest against a previous girlfriend. He also acknowledges that he has lied on the stand. Alexander’s attorney, Faith Gay, looks to prove a pattern of abuse and lies against Mr. Gray.
We’re not introducing it just to show he is a bad person. We’re trying to show what his intent was.
The court will reset the trial to December 1, 2014 to await action from Florida Governor Rick Scott. One of Alexander’s defense is the new “Warning Shot Bill,” which the defendant’s team wants applied retroactively to the case. Judge James Daniel was set to rule on the trial, however both parties agree that the trial should continue once the Governor decides if he’ll sign the new Warning Shot Bill or not. Bruce Zimet, Defense Attorney, comments
It would be silly to have the judge make a ruling then the law changes 30 days later and impedes on a jury trial.
Color of Change, the activist organization that exists to strengthen Black America’s political voice, asks Florida Gov. Rick Scott to suspend the state attorney and stop the prosecution of Alexander. The group’s director, Rashad Robinson, calls Corey’s tactics reminiscent of Jim Crow when black people could not depend on government officials for justice.
I think Angela Corey is a bit unhinged and she’s playing for political points, and she believes she can make this black woman a target and win political points.
Corey makes details of Alexander case public in email to the Duval County Legislative Delegation. Her decision raises jury contamination issues and the prosecutor’s detractors call the letter malicious and and assert its release is an attempt to influence pending state legislation that would modify the “Stand Your Ground” law. Corey refuses press requests for interviews.
Attorneys seek another Stand Your Ground hearing for Alexander. Alexander sought SYG immunity ahead of her initial trial, but was denied. The motion now filed argues that neither the initial denial or the appeals court decision not to “reweigh” the case prevent Alexander from seeking this immunity again. Alexander’s lawyer, Bruce Zimet says the ruling in the SYG hearing was made largely on the testimony of Gray’s two sons, and he says one has since recanted and the other admitted to lying about a “prior altercation” between Gray and another woman, which Zimet believes would have established a pattern of Gray as abusive toward women.
A second motion claims sentencing Alexander to a mandatory minimum 20 years in prison is cruel and unusual punishment because it is “grossly disproportionate” to any offense Alexander is accused of committing. Zimet argues the Florida legislature, who established 10-20-Life, never intended to have it applied to “battered women attempting to defend themselves” The third motion argues against Florida’s consecutive sentencing rules, arguing against a possible 60-year sentence.
The fourth motion introduces past actions by Gray as part of Alexander’s defense that she feared for her life:
What the jury did not hear—and what Alexander is now entitled to introduce—is specific evidence of Gray’s prior similar attacks on women, his repeated lies to law enforcement to avoid prosecution, and his implicit and explicit threats of violence against and coercion of witnesses, including his own children, to falsely accuse his female victims of attacking him
The State Attorney’s Office says they are reviewing these most recent motions and that it ” is committed to seeking justice for our two child victims and their father.”
The state attorney promises that if Alexander is reconvicted, she will face three times her current 20-year sentence if re-convicted because they will insist her sentences are served consecutively. Assistant state attorney Richard Mantei says the state is simply following sentencing laws in seeking 60 years:
Absent a plea agreement, if convicted as charged, the law of the State of Florida fixes the sentence. At this time, Ms. Alexander has rejected all efforts by the State to resolve the case short of trial.
This was not a willful violation; it was a mistake and mistakes happen.
The employee will now be investigated by the Sheriff’s Office.
Florida releases Alexander on bail in time to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Her movements are restricted; she wears an ankle bracelet and is monitored by the Sheriff’s Office. She cannot have contact with her ex-husband or stepsons. Rep. Corrine Brown, an Alexander advocate, says:
I am so pleased and happy that Marissa can spend this holiday and hopefully many more to come with her family and children.
The appellate court finds Judge Daniels gave improper jury instructions and overturns Alexander conviction. Judge Robert T. Benton II makes no mention of the Stand Your Ground law in his 12-page order, but of the trial court’s error he says:
That is not proper. The judge should’ve instructed the jury that when Alexander makes a self-defense claim, then the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is not self-defense.
Judge T. Kent Wetherell, who also sits on the appeals courts, stated in his opinion piece that although the case should be reversed, there are still fundamental problems that should be considered. He wrote that the evidence showed that Alexander had the option of exiting either the front or back doors, which were unobstructed, and said that there was no evidence that the garage door did not work. According to the judge, Marissa Alexander had ample opportunity to leave the home without harm.
Jesse Jackson visits Alexander in prison. Jackson compares Alexander’s case with that of Trayvon Martin:
In one case Mr. Zimmerman kills a young man and walks away, free to kill again. And Marissa shot no one, hurt no one, and she’s in jail for 20 years. We see radical racial polarization in the judicial system. “That’s a cause of great concern.
Circuit Judge James Daniels sentences Alexander to 20 years under the state’s “10-20-life” law. The law says that anyone who shows a gun in the commission of certain felonies receives an automatic 10 years prison sentence. Fire the gun, and it’s an automatic 20 years. Shoot and wound someone, and it’s 25 years to life. Alexander’s relatives begged for leniency but he said the decision was “out of my hands:”
The Legislature has not given me the discretion to do what the family and many others have asked me to do
U.S. Representative Corrine Brown, a vocal detractor of Angela Corey, tells the prosecutor her views in a confrontation outside the court:
The Florida criminal justice system has sent two clear messages today. “One is that if women who are victims of domestic violence try to protect themselves, the `Stand Your Ground Law’ will not apply to them. … The second message is that if you are black, the system will treat you differently.
Rico Grey denies ever abusing Alexander and says:
it was her violent nature, not his, that ultimately landed her 20 years in prison.
Grey, who has been arrested and convicted of assault, says he admitted abuse in his deposition because he and his wife reconciled and he wanted to protect her from prison. He maintains he was trying to leave with his sons when the shot was fired.
The jury finds Alexander guilty on three charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in just 12 minutes. The Florida mother, who shot at her estranged husband during a domestic dispute, is expected to be sentenced to 60 years, 20 years for each count, as required by Florida’s mandatory sentencing laws. Jacksonville congresswoman Corrine Brown, is outraged by the verdict and tells the prosecutor in a confrontation outside the courthouse:
The case was a product of institutional racism.
Gray changes his story in court, says he was scared of Alexander and the judge believes him. The judge denies her stand your ground defense telling the court:
She could have escaped her attacker through the front or back door.
The state offers Alexander a plea agreement, but she refuses it believing she will be vindicated at trial.
Gray repeatedly tells the court in depositions he is violent towards women in general. He maintains he doesn’t remember if he put his hands on Alexander the morning of the shooting, but admits it’s likely saying:
Probably hit her. I got five baby mammas and I put my hands on every last one of them except for one.
Alexander has recently become estranged from her husband, Rico Gray, and has restraining order against him, even though they’d had a baby together just nine days before. She goes to her former home to retrieve the rest of her clothes. However Gray is in the house.
Gray accuses her of having an affair and questions whether the baby is his. Alexander says she locks herself in the bathroom until Gray breaks through the door and shoves her to the floor.
Alexander goes to her vehicle in the garage to get a 9mm pistol she legally owns. She comes back inside and, while her 10 and 13-year-old stepsons are in the room, fires a shot into the wall, which ricochets into the ceiling saying:
I’ve got something for your ass.
Gray later testifies that he saw Alexander point the gun at him and looked away before she fired the shot. He claimed that she was the aggressor, and that he had begged her to put away the weapon.