1. On September 26, the 1st District Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for Marissa Alexander, a mother of three sentenced to 20 years in prison for a shot fired during a 2010 domestic dispute in her home.
2. The appeals court found that a Duval County circuit judge erred in his jury instructions, though it supported the judge’s ruling that Alexander could not plead immunity under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
3. This means that Marissa will not have another hearing on the “stand your ground” law.
4. Circuit Judge James H. Daniel instructed the jury that Alexander had to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that she feared an aggravated assault at the hands of her husband, Rico Gray. The jury convicted her of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which carries a mandatory sentence of 20 years under Florida’s 10-20-Life law.
The appeals court ruled that Daniel’s instructions put too much of a burden on Alexander. “The defendant’s burden is only to raise a reasonable doubt concerning self-defense,” a three-judge panel ruled. “The defendant does not have the burden to prove the victim guilty of the aggression defended against beyond a reasonable doubt.”
5. Marissa is still incarcerated. Prosecutors Rich Mantei and David Thompson told reporters that Alexander would be returned to jail for the retrial and, as before, would have no possibility of bond. “The opinion doesn’t say anything about the facts of the case,” Thompson said. “We’re going to make pretty much the same argument, because the facts haven’t changed.”
6. On the morning of Thursday, October 31 (date just changed), a status hearing will take place where the state will either drop the case or set dates for moving ahead with a re-trial.
Supporters of Marissa are asking that letters, faxes, and calls be made to Prosecutor Angela Corey asking that she drop the case. If you can mail actual letters and cards, those are particularly impactful. If not, faxes and emails are also good. Please spread the word to others about this.
Don’t forget that you can read all of the letters submitted so far as part of the #31forMARISSA campaign at Ebony.com.