As expected a judge sentenced Marissa Alexander to a state-mandated term of 20 years in prison Friday despite her claim she had no choice but to stand her ground against an abusive husband.

What wasn’t expected was a musical protest during the proceedings and a heated discussion that took place afterward between U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and State Attorney Angela Corey.

Alexander, 31, was convicted in March of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in an August 2010 shooting. Alexander has maintained her innocence, saying she fired only a “warning shot” when confronted by her attacking, threatening husband, 36-year-old Rico Gray.

Several of Alexander’s family and friends spoke during the hearing, criticizing “the system” for not protecting her and begging Circuit Judge James Daniel to show her mercy. But the judge said Florida’s “10-20-Life” statutes take any discretion he might have afforded her out of his hands.

Daniel’s words came moments after a group of young protesters from Dream Defenders, an equal rights organization, suddenly broke out into a melody, singing “We who believe in justice will not rest.” Daniel had the group removed from his courtroom and from the courthouse entirely.

Following the proceedings, Brown said Corey overcharged Alexander, labeling the case “institutional racism.”

“How many times have they accepted Stand Your Ground if the person that was asking for it was black?” Brown asked. “You tell me.”

Brown said she has the best domestic violence attorney looking into it as well as other prejudicial outcomes against blacks.

Brown and Corey then came face-to-face in a discussion that for the most part consisted of Brown speaking and then Corey being interrupted by her and Alexander’s supporters.

Corey, however, was able to explain some of the details to the Jacksonville congresswoman, who said she had only recently learned about the case.

“When she [Alexander] discharges a firearm in the direction of human beings, the Legislature says it’s dangerous,” Corey told Brown. “And one of the reasons is because the bullet went through the wall where one of the children was standing. It happened to deflect up into the ceiling, but if it had deflected down it could have hit one of the children.”

Listen: Corrine Brown addresses media

Listen: Exchange between Angela Corey and Corrine Brown

Prosecutors have maintained that Gray’s 13- and 10-year-old sons were standing near their father when the shot was fired, though defense attorney Kevin Cobbin contended they had already run outside.

A judge ruled against Alexander in a Stand Your Ground hearing in 2011, saying that her choice to go back in the house to face her husband was not consistent with someone who was in “genuine fear of his or her life.”

Cobbin has argued that Alexander was trapped, however, because the garage door wouldn’t open. He said it was Gray who engaged her, threatening her, when she came back into the house.

Cobbin also defended his client’s choice to reject a plea deal that came on the eve of the trial. Although he would not speak as to exactly why the deal was rejected, he did say it was offered only after Gray’s elder son, Rico Gray Jr., had informed prosecutors he was changing his story. He testified in the trial that he was not in fear of his life during the shooting, though until then, he had said he had been.

Daniel acknowledged the several conflicts in the evidence during Friday’s sentencing but said he would not re-try the case, ordering those who spoke to refrain from arguing the facts.

“I rejoice in the day I can come to you and we can go to the park with our daughters and watch them play,” Alexander’s sister, Helena Jenkins, said, struggling to fight back her tears.

“Don’t worry about nothing that’s going on in this courtroom because we’ve got you — pound-for-pound and round-for-round — until it’s over,” Raphael Jenkins told his sister.

“If you look at it in its totality, it’s obvious that no one got hurt,” Alexander’s father, Raoul Jenkins said. “No one got shot … She made the best out of a bad situation.”

Prosecutor Nick Lake read a letter from Gray in which he expressed the trauma he said his sons have endured as a result of the shooting, causing them to seek therapy.

Gray has been arrested twice for domestic battery, once leading to a conviction and a sentence of probation. Another incident led Alexander to file an injunction against Gray just months before the shooting.

Alexander also was charged with domestic battery four months after the shooting in another assault on Gray, this time leaving him with an injury to his eye. As a result, her bond was revoked in the aggravated assault case. She eventually pleaded no contest to that charge and was sentenced to time served.

Alexander addressed her children Friday.

“You are strong. You are bright. And you are beautiful,” she said. “And if ever you need me, don’t think the distance or the walls will keep you away from me, OK?”

Alexander has three children, including one with Gray whom she gave birth to just days before the shooting. Gray has custody of their child.



mondolay1949's picture
mondolay1949 6 years 26 weeks ago

Angelia Corey State Of Attorney for the state of Florida prosecuted her; she also, handled the Trayvon Martin case there's a connection to the old JIM CROW LAWS that plagues the SOUTH.

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