By Denise Williams
The Florida/Georgia Star
In August of 2010, Marissa Alexander was a mother of three children living in Jacksonville, Florida’s Duval County. She was at the time living in the home of her estranged husband; Rico Gray whom she later testified was physically and verbally abusive. Her case went viral after she fired a single warning shot as her husband tried to come into the home with the intent to physically attack her. She retrieved her gun, went into her kitchen to protect herself. She discharged the weapon once hoping to frighten her husband. Ms. Alexander believed her single “warning shot” was warranted and she was protected under the state of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Ms. Alexander stated she feared for her safety but the judicial system in the state of Florida did not share her view. She was sentenced at one point to 60 years in prison. Her case and subsequent sentencing sparked outrage from women’s groups across the country who called for her release. Awareness was raised concerning the protection of women, reasonable force, domestic violence and how minority women are discriminated against in the judicial system.
Ms. Alexander was initially sentenced to 20 years in 2012 despite the fact that her former husband admitted to abusing her. This conviction was later overturned however, she was brought up on additional charges that if convicted would land her a sentence of 60 years. Ultimately, she pled guilty to three felony charges which included firing a shot in the direction of her husband and stepchildren. She received credit for time served initially for her initial arrest and conviction but it was overturned on appeal. She was court ordered back into incarceration to serve 65 days with an addition two years under community control (house arrest).
On Friday, January 27th Marissa’s ankle device was removed. She’d spent three years behind bars and was under house detention for two years. She is now free. Marissa and her family have initiated her non-profit organization entitled “The Marissa Alexander Justice Project”. The goal of this organization is to address domestic violence and the injustices in the judicial system.