MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry penned a powerful open letter to Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, imploring her to stop her witch hunt of Marissa Alexander.
As previously reported by Hello Beautiful, the 33-year old Jacksonville mother of three spent almost 3 years of a 20 year sentence behind bars after she fired a warning shot at her estranged husband, Rico Gray, Sr. in 2010 — even though he admitted that he had threatened to kill her during a domestic dispute.
“If my kids weren’t there, I knew I probably would have tried to take the gun from her,” Gray said. “If my kids wouldn’t have been there, I probably would have put my hand on her.” When Alexander’s defense attorney asked him what he meant by “put my hand on her,” Gray replied, “probably hit her. I got five baby mammas and I put my hands on every last one of them except for one.”
After rejecting a 3-year plea deal offered by Corey, Alexander was sentenced to 20 years to life in jail and has been fighting for her release ever since.
She was finally granted a new trial after a judge ruled that the jury did not receive proper instruction on what constitutes self-defense. A new bond hearing was initially scheduled for Nov. 13, 2013, but was pushed back to January 15, 2014.
Just days after proposing conditions of her own release, at around 10:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve, Alexander was released from jail on bond.
Corey, who also made the decision to bring George Zimmerman to trial, has publicly denied any similarities in the case, even though Alexander attempted to use the “Stand Your Ground” defense that was at the center of that farce of a trial:
“Because she was not fleeing from an abuser,” Corey told theGrio in answer to why Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was not applied in Alexander’s case, even though Florida’s Supreme Court has ruled in the past that a woman being abused in her own home by her husband has no duty to flee. “A judge heard all the facts and evidence and said that this was not a case of ‘Stand Your Ground,’ Corey said. “You have to compare what [Marissa Alexander] said to what the victims said. There were two young children there as well. None of the physical evidence corroborates her story. There was the 911 call … and you can clearly hear the distress in Rico Gray’s voice. They had a verbal argument [in which] he said ‘I’m outta here,’ and she said, ‘I’ve got something for you.’”
”[Gray] told his boys, ‘get your clothes, we’re out of here.’ And she and went in the garage and into the glove compartment, got out a gun, got it in a ‘ready to fire’ position — it’s a semiautomatic and it had the safety off, and she had a round in the chamber,” Corey said. “And she walked back into the kitchen and fired the gun at him. He was standing the living room and it went through the wall at about adult head height, and ricocheted off the roof or the wall. And thank God it didn’t hit one of the kids.”
Corey claims that she took Alexander’s history of abuse into consideration when she offered the 3-year plea deal, but the mother of three chose not to take it.
Still, as Harris-Perry points, Alexander is the victim. Unfortunately, there has always been a fine, but distinct line between justice and the law.
Read Harris-Perry’s letter to Corey below. Scroll down for video:
There is nothing like being home for the holidays with your loved ones. So I can only imagine that this Thanksgiving is particularly bittersweet for Marissa Alexander, who was granted a special pre-trial release at 10:30 PM on Wednesday – Thanksgiving Eve – after spending more than 1000 days in jail, and barely seeing her youngest child who just recently turned three.
But my letter is not to Marissa. Sis, I am saving that one for when you are finally freed for good. No, my letter this week is to the woman that worked to put you in jail in the first place: Florida State Attorney for the fourth judicial circuit, Angela Corey.
Dear Angela Corey, It’s me, Melissa.
Angela, there are few times in life that we get second chances to right our wrongs. Well Angela, this is yours.
You have been called a fierce victim’s advocate, so it is way past time that you start acting like it.
Because a woman who was hospitalized in 2009 after being shoved into a bathtub and hitting her head – she is a victim.
A woman whose estranged husband has admitted to abusing all five mothers of his kids – she is his victim.
And when that woman, that victim, who has just recently given birth, fires a warning shot near the man that has cornered her in her home – she is a victim who feels she has no other recourse.
But that is part of the problem, Angela. You never saw Marissa as a victim. You saw Marissa as the aggressor and even justified why the infamous “Stand Your Ground” law was not applied in Marissa’s case.
Because, as you put it, she was not fleeing from an abuser, even though Rico Gray, her estranged husband, has admitted telling Marissa that he would kill her if she ever cheated on him.
You have said that the shot fired was not consistent with a warning shot because it was at adult head height. Marissa is three inches shorter than Rico Gray.
And according to you she didn’t have to get 20 years in jail. That also was her fault, right Angela? You said to NBC’s the Grio back in May: “She didn’t have to get 20 years, because I took into account their prior domestic history and her lack of a [criminal] record, and we offered her the three year mandatory minimum.”
Marissa is a mother of three. And she is a victim of abuse.
Any mother knows that one day away from her child is 24 hours too long.
And when you are an abuse victim, you have to believe that the courts will finally free you from the cycle of violence instead of criminalizing you for trying to protect yourself.
If nothing else, the last two years should have shown you that an aggressive prosecution is not always the best one.
So while I know Marissa is thankful this holiday to be home with her family while she awaits her new trial on March 31st, 2014, maybe you should spend this holiday being thankful that you have a second chance to right this obvious wrong.
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Reagan Gomez's Picks: 5 Must-Watch Web Series
1. "Almost Home"
Reagan Gomez ("Parenthood," "Cleveland Show") is the executive producer and star of "Almost Home," a web series about a brother-sister duo who moves to LA following their mother's death to start over and pursue their dreams. Gomez is currently self-funding and crowdfunding to shoot season 2. Click here to donate: http://bit.ly/1basOI2 and keep clicking to see more of the actress' favorite web shows!
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3. "Let Leslie Tell It"
"Leslie is hilarious!" said Gomez of the comedic weekly pop culture vlog. "The show's on Issa Rae's channel and I love everything she does too; who doesn't love 'Awkward Black Girl?'" Since Rae's ABG took audiences by storm in 2011, the multi-talented content creator has gone on to offer other shows, including this year's "The Choir" and "How Men Become Dogs." SURF HERE: https://www.youtube.com/user/actingrl112
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"BLACK Actress," a mocumentary style series created by and starring Andrea Lewis ("Degrassi: The Next Generation"), is also backed by Issa Rae. The show features commentary from stars like Tatyana Ali, Naturi Naughton, Essence Atkins, and Jenifer Lewis as it follows the adventures of the main character "Kori," who is trying to catch her big break in acting. SURF HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TedSIDr_n-0
5. "Lenox Avenue - The Series"
From creators Al Thompson and Brian Rolling, this dramatic series starring Thompson, Dorian Missick, Ryan Vigilant, Michael K. Williams, Jamie Hector, and Vanessa Bell Calloway, revolves around three friends as they navigate the rough terrain of love and relationships while living in Harlem, New York. SURF HERE: http://bit.ly/185OKam