Marissa Alexander Could Have Bond Revoked

[UPDATE- January 10, 2014: Court Records today show the state’s motion to revoke Marissa Alexander’s bond has been denied]

Supporters of Marissa Alexander are upset, alleging Florida’s Attorney General Angela Corey has made blatantly false accusations that Marissa has violated terms of her bond, and her attorney Bruce Zimet has filed a response asking the court to deny the state’s motion to revoke the bond.

According to the AG office, within days of her release on bond while waiting for a new trial, Marissa Alexander did all the things ordinary people do – got a new driver’s license, went to the bank, went shopping for clothes, or drove relatives to a hair shop and the airport.

But all the “ordinary” things she did were in violation of court orders, and could land her back in jail this Friday, reports the Florida Times-Union.

marissa alexander
marissa alexander

Marissa is not in a position to do ordinary things. On October 31st she was granted a new trial date of March 31, 2014. She was released November 27th on three bonds – totalling over $250,000 – on home detention, or house arrest, until trial, and wasn’t supposed to leave home except for court, medical emergencies or to satisfy any requirements of her pretrial services program, like a drug test.

In a motion filed Monday to have the bond revoked, State Attorney General Angela Corey’s office said Marissa is “once again violating the court’s orders, and this court should not continue to allow itself to be disrespected in such blatant fashion.” A hearing on the motion is this Friday, January 10th.

Marissa is also not allowed to possess or be near any firearms, can’t consume any alcohol or drugs, and is subject to random drug tests and searches.

She was ordered (again) not to have any contact whatsoever with the “victim” Rico Gray or his two boys. Yet, the AG office also alleges that besides running errands, Marissa has paid a visit to Gray’s brother since her release.

Zimet’s response states that Marissa requested permission from Correctional Services Counselor April Wilson for each trip she took away from home, that Wilson authorized and gave permission for each trip listed in the state’s motion to revoke the bond, but the state failed to include these facts in its motion.

Zimet stated, “No justification supports the state’s failure to include in it’s motion the fact that every activity alleged to be a violation of bond had been approved. Obviously, including those omitted facts would expose the frivolity of the State’s Motion.”

Marissa, now 33 years-old, had served part of a 20 year sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing what she described as a warning shot. The appellate court reversed her conviction, ruling that jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous. At trial, the only real issue was whether she had acted in self-defense when she fired the gun.

In her appeal, Marissa maintained that the trial court abused its discretion, by giving self-defense instructions to the jury that improperly put the burden on her to establish – beyond a reasonable doubt – that Rico Gray, her fiance, was committing or was about to commit an aggravated battery when she fired the gun.

Under Florida’s 10-20-Life statutes, anyone who pulls a gun during the commission of a crime receives a mandatory 10-year sentence. Firing a gun during a crime draws 20 years.

Marissa has many supporters including those who have called on Corey’s office to drop the charges, rather than taking the case to trial again.

The case not only exemplifies domestic violence issues but also the misapplication of stand your ground laws, because, per Florida law, it appears that Marissa would originally have deserved immunity from prosecution, but it was denied.

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Happy Thanksgiving! Marissa Alexander Free On Bond

Marissa Alexander, a Florida mom who fired a warning shot at an abusive husband, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, only to be granted a new trial, is free on bond and home with family – in time for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.

Marissa Alexander
Marissa Alexander

After a bond hearing, Alexander – who has served almost three years of the sentence handed down in 2010, was released on three bonds – one for each of her charges for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon – totalling $200,000 – just before midnight. She is under house arrest.

State Attorney General Angela Corey released a statement earlier this month stating that her office “will continue to seek justice for our two child victims and their father who were endangered by the shot the defendant fired at them.”

Supporters had hoped that Corey would drop the case against the 33 year-old mother of three who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband. Her sentencing produced an uproar by women’s rights groups and she became an iconic symbol for those against domestic violence.

Alexander was released with special conditions, according to court records, most not unlike any other felony case.

She will be under supervision of the Pretrial Services Program (PSP) with electronic monitoring on house arrest, and is not allowed to leave her home except for medical emergencies, court appearances, or request by the PSP.

Of course, Alexander is ordered (again) not to have any contact whatsoever with Rico Gray or his two boys. Since she is still going through divorce proceedings, all orders pertaining to those proceedings will be facilitated by an unnamed third party.

Alexander is not allowed to possess or be near any firearms, cannot consume any alcohol or drugs, and is subject to random drug testing and warrantless searches.

She was granted a new trial in September, then moved from state prison to Duval County in October. However, the judge at that time only granted a new trial date of March 31, 2014, but denied her bond, disappointing supporters.

Marissa Alexander and daughter
Marissa Alexander and daughter

This Movement to End Stand Your Ground supports the movement to free Marissa Alexander and celebrates her release on bond, since her case exemplifies misapplication of stand your ground laws. Based upon the case history, it would appear that Alexander originally would have deserved to have been granted immunity from prosecution under Florida’s stand your ground law, but she was denied immunity.

Happy Thanksgiving, Marissa!
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Florida Lawmakers Kill Stand Your Ground Repeal Bill At Hearing

At a hearing on last Thursday, Florida lawmakers gave some young people a slap in the face, voting 11-2 against a bill calling for a full repeal of the state’s stand your ground law.

The Florida House of Representatives also gave some attendees the impression they had come into the hearing with their minds already made up that they would shoot down SB 4003, a bill introduced by State Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee).

Florida stand your ground repeal hearing Nov. 7 2013
Stand Your Ground Hearing at Florida Capitol (photo by EasyG for endstandyourground)

The lawmakers questioned Williams at length during the five-hour hearing, with much grilling coming from Chairman Matt Gaetz, who sometimes appeared to try to ridicule Williams’ attempts to sell the bill. Gaetz has been infamously quoted as saying he will not change “one damn comma” of Florida’s stand your ground law.

Williams insisted that his bill would simply cause the state’s current self-defense law to revert to its original form, what he called “common law” that existed before the 2005 legislation which enacted stand your ground law.

Gaetz used the opportunity draw an analogy between stand your ground with Williams’ common law, referring to the two as “buckets of laws”, one with more self-defense rights (stand your ground), and the other with less rights. He questioned which would be more preferable to someone who had the urgency to defend themselves.

The Webster Room in Florida’s Capitol was almost filled to capacity with about an equal amount of polarized HB 4003 proponents like the Dream Defenders, and opponents like NRA members occupying opposite sides of the room.

“Remember November” were the words used by Dream Defenders leader Philip Agnew as he spoke at the hearing. He was referring to next year’s state elections, when legislators seeking re-election face this new young breed of voters. Teenagers as young as 14 years-old spoke in favor of a repeal.

The lawmakers also heard from Lucia Mcbath, mother of stand your ground victim Jordan Davis, as she made another impassioned plea calling for changes in the law. She had appeared days earlier at a U.S. Senate hearing on stand your ground.

Ron Davis, the teenager’s father, also called for changes, and the House heard from attorney Daryl Parks, representing Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin, parents of Trayvon Martin, who were not at the hearing.

Gun advocate Marion Hammer, a past president of the NRA,  made a short statement, purporting that “stand your ground is a good law”, and many other gun advocates spoke out against the repeal bill, or waived their chance to speak in opposition.

Before the lawmakers even voted on Williams’ bill, several in the proponent camp appeared to believe that the House would vote against the repeal. Agnew, the Dream Defenders leader, said, “It’s not over. We’ll just regroup and come back stronger next time.”

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Stand Your Ground Hearings Highlight A Frenzy Of Activity

A new frenzy of activity involving stand your ground laws may soon have some gun-toting, second amendment quoting vigilante kooks shaking.

For the first time since neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Florida’s Senate recently held a hearing on changes to the state’s controversial stand-your-ground law, and new guidelines for deadly force and self-defense by neighborhood watch groups were approved by the state senate’s Judiciary Committee.

US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013
US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013

Then, last week, for the first time in history, the federal government held a U.S. Senate hearing on stand your ground laws in America.

A few days later, a new trial date was set for Marissa Alexander, the Florida victim of domestic violence who fired a warning shot into a wall, and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Why didn’t stand your ground work for her?

Marissa Alexander

The day after Alexander’s status hearing, Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Push Coalition filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia in connection with two Georgia stand your ground cases.

This week, the next major hurdle takes place as a legislator in Florida leads a charge into the Florida House of Representatives to repeal stand your ground laws.

State Representative Alan Williams has introduced SB 4003, a bill calling for a full repeal of stand your ground laws in Florida. I received a call from his office a few days ago, urging a roundup of supporters for the bill at a state senate hearing before the House of Representatives in Tallahassee on Thursday, November 7th. Many opponents of stand your ground law, including the young activist group Dream Defenders, are expected to attend the hearing.

Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee)
Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee)

The resistance – to keep the law – is large, loud, and powerful. Williams wants his state, where it all started, to be the first to end stand your ground law. So far, most efforts to merely change the law in Florida have been blocked. But the movement to change the law is growing.

Both proponents and opponents can agree that stand your ground laws – as currently written – do not work. In fact, according to statistical research released by several groups, these laws do just the opposite of what they were intended to do,

Stand your ground laws expand the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and long-established Castle Doctrine. These new laws are reportedly designed to give legal, law-abiding citizens the right to defend themselves in the face of imminent death or injury – anywhere they have a right to be – without thinking first about how to defuse or get out of the situation (no duty to retreat).Florida Stand Your Ground Statute

That anywhere could literally be anywhere – a public place like a park, a school, an event, a niteclub, or at work. Or, in a private place, such as a back alley, in someone else’s home (as long as your’re invited), or at a private party. With a concealed-carry permit, you’re protected by the law – and whatever caliber steel you prefer, provided you can prove the imminent threat of death or injury by the other party.

Of course, a killer could still be charged with other crimes as a result, yet actually get away with murder, no time in jail, or less than the maximum sentence – because they claimed stand your ground immunity.

The Florida hearing on the bill to repeal is tomorrow. The NRA lobby is sure to be there. So the movement to end stand your ground laws must be larger, louder, and more powerful in order to jump this next hurdle.

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Marissa Alexander Granted New Trial Date At Status Hearing

We just got word from the Free Marissa Now camp that, at a status hearing in Duval County, Florida this morning, Marissa Alexander was granted a new trial date of March 31, 2014. Today’s status hearing was originally reported to have been set for October 29, which was then reported to have since been moved to November 1, and then to today’s date.

Supporters had hoped that Florida State Attorney Angela Corey would drop the case against the 33 year-old mother of three who had been sentenced to 20 years. She had been moved from state prison to Duval County within the last two weeks. Nonetheless, Alexander could be free on bond next week – a bond hearing is set for November 8.

The Movement to End Stand Your Ground supports the movement to free Marissa Alexander, since her case exemplifies misapplication of stand your ground laws. Based upon the case history, it would appear that Alexander originally would have deserved to have been granted immunity from prosecution under Florida’s stand your ground law, but she was denied immunity.
Mariss Alexander