Forgotten Majority

Advocating for the just and humane treatment of those who are incarcerated.


Courtesy First Coast News
Ann Schindler 11/24/14

marissa alexander plea hearing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Facing a possible 60 years in prison for firing a gun at her estranged husband and his two sons, Marissa Alexander agreed Monday to a plea deal that effectively ends the four-year old criminal case against her. According to the terms of the plea, Alexander was ordered to serve three years in prison after pleading guilty to all three counts against her. Alexander will get credit for the 1,030 days she’s already spent in jail. That means she’ll have to spend 65 more days in jail. Alexander will return to Duval County Jail following Monday’s hearing. Although she may be released on Jan. 27, the second count against Alexander is considered an ‘open plea’ for which she could still be sentenced to five years in prison.

Alexander sought immunity under Stand Your Ground law, but was denied. That same month, she rejected a 3-year plea deal and chose instead to stand trial. later, when she was convicted, Florida’s 10-20-Life laws mandated a stringent 20-year prison sentence — despite the fact that her shot didn’t injure or even hit anyone. Alexander herself became the focus of anti-domestic violence advocates, since she claimed the victim in the case, estranged husband Rico Gray, was a serial abuser who attacked her first.

The Time Line
It took jurors just 12 minutes to convict her in March 2012, and two months later, Judge James Daniel sentenced her to 20 years, the mandatory sentence under Florida’s tough 10-20-Life law. The severity of the sentence – 20 years for a shooting in which no one is injured — draws national attention, including a July 2013 jailhouse visit from the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The scrutiny only intensifies after George Zimmerman is acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin.  Pro bono lawyers take Alexander’s case and in September 2013, the 1st District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee overturned her conviction because of flawed jury instructions.  Just before Thanksgiving 2013, Alexander is granted bail and sent home on house arrest.

Both sides say Monday’s plea deal has been in the works for some time, but a trigger may have occurred in November 2014, when the judge agreed to allow testimony from Gray’s ex-wife and two former girlfriends, all of whom say he was a serial abuser.

Alexander’s return to jail for the next 65 days will round out a full three-year sentence, which prosecutors say will satisfy them. Whether it also satisfies the judge won’t be known until early next year, at Alexander’s sentencing hearing. Circuit Court Judge James Daniel can either accept the time she’s served and release her to an additional two years house arrest with a monitor or could add two more years for a total of five.  Alexander heads back to court Jan 27, 2015.

TRIAL UPDATE (1/27/15):
Marissa Alexander is being RELEASED from prison today, January 27, 2015! Her sentence includes two years of house detention, while wearing a surveillance monitor at a cost of $105 weekly which is already covered by donations to  the ‘Free Marissa Now’ campaign.
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