In an unexpected new development, the Florida case of Marissa Alexander, 31, will be the subject of a retrial motion next week with the sentencing delayed. During a pre-sentencing hearing this morning in Jacksonville, FL, Circuit Judge James Daniel agreed to hear arguments from both sides on the question of whether a retrial will be granted in her case.
Arguments will be heard on Monday, April 30. Through a spokeswoman, prosecutor Nicholas Lake said he’d make “no further comments” regarding the case.
New attention on Melissa Alexander’s case spearheaded by her first husband, Lincoln Alexander – who created the website, Justice for Marissa – would appear to have had an effect. After telling Marissa Alexander’s story during interviews with Black Talk Radio News and Michael Baisden last week, Lincoln Alexander appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper. A petition drive in support of Marissa Alexander is also underway. Lincoln Alexander attended the pre-sentencing hearing today and informed Politic365 of Judge Daniel’s action.
Marissa Alexander faces a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years in prison after being convicted in 2011 of three counts of aggravated assault with no intent to kill or harm. In 2010, during an argument with her second husband at their home in Jacksonville, she fired a bullet into the ceiling of their home. Alexander asserted that she fired the weapon to ward off an attack from her husband. Alexander shot no one nor was anyone injured during the incident.
During Marissa Alexander’s trial, a motion to invoke Florida’s stand-your-ground law on her behalf was denied by Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt. Since February 2011, Marissa Alexander, the mother of three children, has been behind bars.
The application of the stand-your-ground law in Florida would appear to be highly subjective. Though Marissa Alexander had no obligation to retreat when her husband allegedly assaulted her, Judge Senterfitt reasoned that Alexander could have exited the home during the attack when she ruled against Alexander’s stand-your-ground motion.
Late Sunday night, George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin on February 26, was released from police custody in Sanford, FL after he was granted a $150,000 bond by Judge Kenneth Lester on April 20. Zimmerman had been previously arrested for felony assault on a police officer in 2005. Zimmerman was also granted permission to leave the state of Florida.
Zimmerman had already been free from the night of February 26 until 46 days later when, after much protest and media attention, he was charged and arrested on April 11 with second degree murder by Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey. The U.S. Justice Department is also conducting an investigation of Martin’s killing.
Judge Daniel could be taking a new look at the case of Marissa Alexander. The Jacksonville NAACP Chapter President, Isiah Rumlin wrote Judge Daniel regarding Melissa Alexander’s case. “We take issue with the State denying her (Alexander’s) right to claim self-defense under Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.’ [Alexander] did all that she possibly could to protect herself from her husband at the time, including an injunction for protection against violence, which was active on the day of the incident,” the letter in part read.
The National Bar Association, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the NAACP, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Rev. Al Sharpton and many others are challenging the stand-your-ground laws. The laws, enacted in twenty five states, have coincided with an increase in “justifiable” homicide cases.
LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Chief Congressional Correspondent, publishes the blog Crewof42 on the Congressional Black Caucus. She is heard every Tuesday on WMCS 1290 in Milwaukee on Earl Ingram’s show The Evening Rush as well as on WHUR and WPFW in Washington DC. You can e-mail her at LBurke007@gmail.com and follow her on twitter at @crewof42