Written by: Dan Evans, The Florida Star
Photographer: Angie Nixon
Justice Rally for Marissa with SCLC, NAACP, Hurting Families, and many more.
Supporters, community leaders, and organizers gathered outside the court house to voice concerns for Marissa Alexander, facing a 20 year prison term for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The law is 10-20-Life.
A jury, deliberating only 12 minutes March 16, convicted Marissa Alexander on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A 20-year mandatory minimum sentence unless she could win a new trial. Thursday morning, Judge James H. Daniel denied Ms. Alexander a new trail.
Marissa Alexander was convicted on three counts of aggravated assault after firing a warning shot at her ex-husband inside their home August 2010.
At the time, Alexander had taken out a protective order against her ex-husband. He was arrested for physically abusing her.
Investigations show a fight started in their master bedroom, Alexander told police she feared for her life. Motions filed by the State Attorney’s office indicate Alexander was the aggressor and not her husband. However, her defense attorney Kevin Cobbin argues Alexander’s ex-husband said he was going to kill her.
According to court documents, she ran to the garage to get her registered handgun.
Evidence taken during a November 2010 deposition show Marissa Alexander’s husband Rico Gray bragging about his relationship with women “I got five baby mammas, and I put my hands on every last one of them except for one,” Rico Gray confessed. Gray stated “The way I was with women they had to walk on eggshells around me.” He talks about punching women in the face, shoving and choking them. Gray has been arrested twice for domestic battery; one of the arrests was for an assault that sent Alexander to the hospital.
In September 2009, Ms. Alexander obtained a protective order against Gray that was still in effect on Aug. 1, 2010, when he flew into a jealous rage while going through her cell phone, discovering that she had sent pictures of their newborn daughter to her first husband. Alexander was in the master bathroom at the time, and Gray tried to force his way in. When she came out, he screamed and cursed at her while preventing her from leaving the bedroom. “I was like forcing her back with my body,” said Gray…
When Alexander managed to get by, she ran through the kitchen to the garage, where she said she realized she did not have the keys to her car, could not call for help because she had left her cell phone behind, and could not escape because the garage door was not working. Instead she grabbed her gun from her car and headed back through the kitchen, where Gray confronted her again.
According to his deposition Gray admitted he “had told her if she ever cheated on me I would kill her” and during the fight said, “If I can’t have you, nobody can.”
He conceded he “was going towards her” when Alexander fired a single shot, high and to his right, that went through the kitchen wall and lodged in the living room ceiling. Finally he left, with his two sons.
“The gun was never pointed at me,” Gray said. “She just didn’t want me to put my hands on her anymore, so she did what she feels like she has to do to make sure she wouldn’t get hurt.”
Gray changed his story at the hearing in July 2011 saying he lied to protect her. In that hearing Alexander argued that the charges against her should be dismissed because she had acted in self-defense, Gray, according to the deposition stated at one point he lied out of anger. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt rejected Alexander’s motion to dismiss, saying she could have escaped through the front or back door instead of going to the garage.
Florida’s self-defense law says “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat” if “he or she reasonably believes” it is necessary to prevent “imminent death or great bodily harm” or “the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
Florida Supreme Court ruled, in 1999 that a woman attacked by her husband in their home they share has no duty to flee.
Although she injured no one, she faces a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence. Circuit Judge James H Daniel is considering, acquitting Alexander on one of her three charges as the result of the testimony of one of the three victims. That victim, the son of her husband, Rico Gray, recounted his previous accounts to authorities when he testified at Alexander’s trial that he was not in fear of his life during the shooting.
Rico Gray Sr., 36 has two domesticbattery arrests, one against Alexander resulting in a conviction and a sentence of probation. After that attack, records show Ms. Alexander filed an injunction against him Gray.
Marissa Alexander was convicted on a domestic battery charge against Gray in an incident that occurred less than five months after the 2010 shooting and according to State Prosecutor Angela Corey was in violation of probation. Sentencing has been set for Friday May 11, 2012 at 8:30. Attorney Cobbin states they will appeal.
Statement in Support of Marissa Alexander
I am here today in support of Marissa Alexander, not just as a supporter, not just as an advocate, not just as a mother, not even just as a former victim of domestic abuse. I am here today as a former domestic violence victim at the hands of Marissa’s husband, RICO GRAY.
My name is Chartrissa Anderson. I have known Rico Gray for almost 12 years. We have a 9 year old daughter together. My relationship with Rico Gray is one in which I have encountered violence, intimidation and control. During our relationship I was hit in the mouth, pushed into a wall and even had to run into a neighbor’s house. He even beat me while I was outside and stripped me of my clothing.
Rico Gray has a very violent temper. I can recall him super gluing my house locks so I could not get in. He has broken in my house and destroyed property. He has damaged my parent’s rental property by throwing rocks at the house. I have filed several injunctions against Rico Gray, but fear for my safety and him ending his relationship with our daughter I dismissed them. Just as Marissa did. The last injunction that I filed on Rico Gray was in reference to an incident that happened in 2006. On this day we got into an argument about his 4th child’s mother whom he impregnated while we were in a relationship. Words were exchanged and when I tried to avoid him by going into our room, he broke the door off the hinges and told me that this was his house. I got up to go to my son’s room to avoid him again, he said something I replied, and he then punched me in the face. As I called the police he came towards me and yanked the cord out of the wall. After he realized the call went through, he went to the kitchen, took a fork and stabbed himself in the arm in front of me and his son. Rico told his son to tell the officers that I had stabbed him repeatedly. When the officers got there Rico told them I had stabbed him. Fortunately, they didn’t believe him so they arrested Rico Gray and charged him with domestic violence. I filed an injunction for no contact the following day.
In 2007, I revised my injunction to no violence so that he could continue a relationship with our daughter. In 2008, we got back into a relationship again. Similar to Marissa. As time went on his temper got worse. He has flared up like he was going to hit me, but while my kids were in the room, he never did. He has only been verbally abusive to me in front of my children. But he never cared about getting physical when his children were around. Rico trained them to lie and protect him. Which is why he often didn’t go to jail. I tell you all this to say …that could have been me. I could be in Marissa’s place, fighting for my freedom. So that is why I feel it is my duty to be HER VOICE. I plead with each of you today, to demand that she be released.