by Charlene Muhammad
Special to the NNPA from The Final Call
Marissa Alexander will stand trial again July 28 for what should never have been considered a crime, much less a conviction, say her supporters.
Currently under house arrest after her conviction and a 20 year sentence were overturned last November, a new conviction on charges of aggravated assault would mean a 60 year sentence. That means three consecutive, not concurrent, 20 year sentences for the felony gun crime.
The Jacksonville, Florida mother of three had already served three years after a 2012 conviction for firing what she called a warning shot to stop an attack from her estranged, abusive husband. No one was injured by the single shot she fired.
Ms. Alexander, who had no criminal record, had a restraining order against her former husband and said she feared for her life. She was denied immunity under the state’s Stand Your Ground Law, convicted and given 20 years.
Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, there was a massive outcry for Ms. Alexander’s case to be reviewed.
Her attorneys, family, friends and supporters want to make sure she doesn’t return to prison.
“She’s doing well. She’s happy to be with her children, obviously. And she’s getting ready for trial,” said Bruce Zimet, her attorney. On March 14, he was preparing to file court documents on key legal issues, one in particular relating to reports in various media that State Attorney Angela Corey is gunning to put Ms. Alexander away.
Attorney Zimet did not detail the documents but said he could and would once the filings were complete. He also did not comment on reports lawyers plan to use Stand Your Ground as a defense in Ms. Alexander’s new trial.
Meanwhile, the Free Marissa Now coalition has raised more than $41,000 through an online campaign to help with her defense. Her attorneys are working for free, but she faces more than $250,000 in legal expenses, according to supporters. The fundraising is connected to Ms. Alexander and her family through the Marissa Alexander Legal Defense Fund.
“Our continued organizing will make sure that Marissa’s name is not forgotten and that our commitment to her freedom remains active. It also creates opportunities for us to continue to raise awareness about domestic violence and mass incarceration,” the group said. Donations can be made online at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/marissa-alexander-freedom-fundraiser.
Attorney Opio Sokoni of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Jacksonville feel what Ms. Alexander has endured and is still facing is unfair in the face of Mr. Zimmerman’s freedom.
Atty. Sokoni said he doesn’t understand why there is such a push by State Attorney Corey when it comes to Ms. Alexander but believes the prosecutor must feel embarrassed by the case, a higher court’s review of it, and ultimately by the potential release of Ms. Alexander.
“She considers herself to be a southern, folksy, tough-on-crime prosecutor,” Atty. Sokoni said. Many people have a problem with it, he said.
“She’s tried more children as adults which makes Jacksonville the capital of all cities in the country that tried children as adults. This is Angela Corey,” Atty. Sokoni told The Final Call.
While many disagree with her tactics, Ms. Corey is considered a hero to some in Jacksonville, particularly members of the Tea Party, conservative Republicans, and some Blacks frustrated with city crime rates.
In an e-mail, the Florida State Attorney’s Office responded to Ms. Corey’s critics and her handling of Ms. Alexander’s case. Several media outlets are reporting inaccurate information regarding her upcoming trial and it has been erroneously reported that State Attorney Corey wants to increase her prison time, the state attorney office said.
“The facts are the following: The Court has stated more than once on the record during proceedings that the defendant faces 60 years in prison. Media outlets were present at these court proceedings,” it continued.
When there’s no plea agreement and a conviction on the charges, it’s Florida law, not State Attorney Corey, that fixes the sentences, the prosecutors said.