Marissa Alexander, the 33-year-old battered mother entangled in an contentious gun-related trial in Florida, could be going to jail for life.
The office of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey has confirmed that it will seek to give Marissa Alexander a 60-year prison sentence at her retrial this July for firing one shot at her abusive estranged husband, Rico Gray.
Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei, the lead prosecutor in the case, reportedly told the Florida Times-Union “his office was simply following the sentencing laws of the state of Florida.”
“At this time, Ms. Alexander has rejected all efforts by the State to resolve the case short of trial,” Mantei told TU, rejecting questions of whether a 60-year sentence is vindictive.
“Absent a plea agreement, if convicted as charged, the law of the State of Florida fixes the sentence.”
The key issue centers on whether Florida law requires 10-20-life sentences to be consecutive or concurrent (Alexander received concurrent sentencing; Corey is seeking to triple the 20-year sentence for each conviction.) Several Florida appellate courts have ruled on this issue, with some of those rulings conflicting with each other.
Convicted in 2012, Alexander had begun serving a mandatory minimum 20-year sentence for three counts of aggravated assault, but a retrial was ordered in September 2013. The First District Court of Appeal in Florida had discovered that the trial’s judge had unfairly told jurors Alexander had to prove her claim of self-defense, so the original conviction was overturned and she was released on bail in November after 21 months behind bars.
During an escalated, and allegedly violent dispute in 2010, Alexander had fired what she says was “a warning shot” at her estranged husband inside her Jacksonville, Fla., home. The incident occurred days after she had birthed their premature child. No injuries were reported.
Prosecutors had initially offered Alexander three-year prison sentence before her original trial, a deal that she rejected to go to trial instead.
Corey claims Alexander shot out of anger, while Alexander says she did so in self-defense, citing the Stand Your Ground Laws. The controversial law allows the use of deadly force instead of retreating if the person is afraid for his or her life. Many are condemning Florida justice system and Corey for denying Alexander immunity under the state’s self-defense law, particularly in light of the fatal shootings of Black teens Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, the verdict of Michael Dunn‘s trial and Corey’s failed prosecution of George Zimmerman in 2013.
“A 60 year sentence for Marissa Alexander would not only be devastating for her, her children and family, and her community, it would be a decisive blow to the right to self defense for black women and all women,” Free Marissa Now leader Aleta Alston-Toure said in a statement.
“Incarcerating Marissa Alexander will send a strong message to all survivors that violence against them will be ignored and they instead will be subject to prosecution if they defend their lives.”