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Marissa Alexander awaits jury selection, retrial

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/17/2014, 1:05 p.m.
Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander’s ongoing case will hit a pivotal point on May 16, when a hearing will determine if there will be a “Stand Your Ground” hearing along with jury selection slated in July.

Currently in the process of a retrial, Alexander, 33, was previously sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot at her abusive ex-boyfriend and his two children in Florida. She faces charges including three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Alexander’s “Stand Your Ground” plea was rejected. However, her sentence was overturned by an appeal.

If convicted in her retrial, she could face 60 years in prison. Alexander remains out on bail awaiting her retrial.

The public has made stark comparisons of the case to that of George Zimmerman, who was acquitted on murder charges in the killing of Black teen Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, considered using “Stand Your Ground” as a defense to justify the teen’s killing.

This month, a judge announced jury selection from a 300-person pool for Alexander’s retrial will begin on July 21, and the retrial will start shortly afterward. Questions of whether jurors in the trial will be sequestered also came up. That decision will be made in June.

Reports out of Florida indicate that several local clergy sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Angela Corey asking for the court to offer her a new three-year plea deal. Alexander was offered this in her initial trial, but she turned it down.

“As a pastor, I’m a little disappointed because I was hoping that they would end this,” pastor Ken Adkins of Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship said. “I think you guys heard a lot of the clogging that’s happening with the system—all of the murders and stuff—so I was really hoping that this would kind of go away.”

Adkins went on to say that allowing Alexander to get the deal would allow the community to move forward and not let the case drag out. Advocates for Alexander say that she should not have been on trial to begin with and that taking the plea would be an admission.

“As community leaders who have a vested interest in this community, we believe that justice would best be served by this very fair offer, and it is our prayer that Miss Alexander accepts this offer so she could receive credit for time served, complete the remainder of her sentence and continue on with her life,” said Adkins.

In a statement, Corey’s office acknowledged receipt of the letter.

“The state attorney’s office has received the letter,” they said. “The state attorney’s office does not extend plea offers publicly. Offers are appropriately extended between parties or in open court.”

In the midst of the controversy over confusion surrounding warning shots and the “Stand Your Ground” law, Florida’s Senate recently approved a warning shot bill earlier this month.

The bill allows for the threatened use of force without falling under the rule of “10-20-life” used in Florida as a minimum sentencing law regarding the use of a firearm during the commission of a forcible felony. Pulling a gun carries a 10-year sentence, firing a gun carries a 20-year sentence and shooting someone carries 20 years to life.

Gov. Rick Scott must sign the bill to make it law.

“Gov. Scott supports the Second Amendment and Florida’s self-defense laws,” spokesman John Tupps said. “He looks forward to reviewing this legislation in its entirety now that it has been approved by both the House and the Senate.”