As we look at the drama surrounding the Trayvon Martin case, we encourage folks to connect the dots and pay attention to other cases to get an idea on how justice is elusive for some and the working quite well for others.. Yesterday we saw how George Zimmerman was granted bail after giving a half-hearted, insulting, insincere apology to the Martin family for profiling, stalking and eventually killing their son..
What we didn’t hear about was a how an African-American women who in the course of protecting herself from an abusive husband who beat her while she was pregnant, shot a gun that she legally owns into the air. No one was hurt, but she is now looking at 25 years. Yes indeed, you read that right, facing 25 years.. Her name is Marissa Alexander, she lives in Florida, is a mother of 3 and everyone should know her name and her case.The person who prosecuted her case is Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case.
Here’s a letter that was written on her behalf laying out the details… As you read this letter ask yourself the following questions:
Where is the NRA on this case? Don’t they have supporters who come to the aid of people like Alexander, a legal gun owner who used a law they designed to protect herself, or was she supposed to actually shoot her husband?
Where’s the folks behind ALEC who pushed for Stand Your Ground Laws, not just in Florida but in other states around the country?
Where are all the folks speaking loudly about the injustice around Trayvon, but silent on Marrissa Alexander, because they choose to see Trayvon in isolation and not connected to the larger system of continual injustices impacting Black people and people of color all over the country?
Here’s the letter….
April 3, 2012
On August 1 2010, my premature baby girl, born nine days earlier, was in the Baptist South N.I.C.U. fighting for her life and I would too be fighting for my life in my own home against an attack from my husband.
My name is Marissa Alexander, I am a mother of three children, but at the present time, I am not able to be with them due to the following circumstances. I am currently sitting in the Pretrial Detention Facility in Jacksonville FL, Duval County awaiting a sentence for three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm.
Before my life changed drastically on that August afternoon, I was in the perilous position of leaving an abusive relationship with my husband who has history of violence and documented domestic abuse towards women. Our history included one which required me to place an injunction for protection against violence and was active during the month of August 2010.
In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom. He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave. After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing. I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out. For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit. Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.
He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave. Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave. Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself. I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened. The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Bitch I will kill you!”, and charged toward me. In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling. As I stood my ground it prevented him from doing what he threatened and he ran out of the home. Outside of the home, he contacted the police and falsely reported that I shot at him and his sons. The police arrived and I was taken into custody.
I was devastated and would continue to be for months following the incident. I had to appear in court all the way up until trial as I plead not guilty and know that I acted in self-defense. I believe my actions saved my life or prevented further harm, but preserved that of my husband who was completely irrational, extremely violent, and unpredictable that day.
Florida has a self-defense law and it includes the right to stand your ground. Below are the facts of my concern with the incorrect way the law was applied and ultimately the injustice in my case.
· The alleged victim, my husband, under sworn statement in November 2010, admitted he was the aggressor, threatened my life and was so enraged he didn’t know what he would do.
· The alleged victim, my husband, was arrested for domestic violence two times, once for abuse against me. The attack against me was so violent; I ended up in the hospital.
· Prior to my arrest, I told the office I was in fear for my life due to the prior violence against me. I also told the officer there was a domestic injunction in place to protect me against abuse from the alleged victim. This information was written in detail by the officer in my arrest report, but ignored for some unknown reason.
· In July of 2011, a hearing was held, where I along with the alleged victims testified as it relates to the stand your ground law and its immunity from prosecution.
· After the hearing, Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt denied my motion, citing that I could have exited the house thru the master bedroom window, front door, and/or sliding glass back door. The law specifically states: No duty to retreat.
· My attorney entered a standing objection on the record to the ruling and we proceeded to trial.· During that time, Angela Corey, our State Attorney met with the alleged victims. I also along with my attorney met with Angela Corey, John Guy, and then prosecutor Christen Luikart. I justified my actions to them and the truth as I have told it has remained the same.
· Knowing our prior domestic abuse history, Angela Corey was hard pressed for the minimum mandatory, which provisions allow for prosecution to wave those stipulations. I was not guilty, nor did I believe that was fair and just under the circumstances. She also allowed for those same provisions in the State vs. Vonda Parker, same charges different circumstances which did not include self-defense.
· Florida uses a law commonly known as 10-20-life as a sentencing guideline when a felony takes place with the use of a weapon. Under this statute, my felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to harm carries a twenty year mandatory sentence.
· Stand your ground law has been applied in multiple recent incidents, the following is just a couple of incidents. Carl Kroppman Jr was allowed to use this law to avoid being arrested/charged during a road rage incident on the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville, FL in August of 2011. Marqualle Woolbright of Ocala, FL avoided murder charges due to the stand your ground law when he shoot and killed someone.
I am a law abiding citizen and I take great pride in my liberty, rights, and privileges as one. I have vehemently proclaimed my innocence and my actions that day. The enigma I face since that fateful day I was charged through trial, does the law cover and apply to me too?
A step further and more importantly is in light of recent news, is justice for all include everyone, regardless of gender, race or aristocratic dichotomies. I simply want my story heard, reviewed and the egregious way in which my case was handled from start to finish serve as an eye opener for all and especially those responsible for upholding judicial affairs.
The threat that day was very real, imminent, and the battery on me occurred minutes before the decision I made to protect myself. That decision was a last resort, necessary and a reaction to the continued threat on my life. I am a believer that grace allowed for my response to be carried out in a non-lethal manner. This prevented the imminent threat and harm a non-fatal tactic, but not against an unknown attacker, rather my very own husband. That was by far the most difficult position to be in nine days after giving birth to a six week premature infant. My heart goes out for my two stepsons and always has had a hurt and sincere empathy for them being subjected innocently to that trauma.
The law states that I was justified in standing my ground and meeting force with force up to including deadly force, but political views and concerns states otherwise in the 4th circuit court.
So my last questions and valid concerns are what was I supposed to do that day and the stand your ground law who is it for?
Lincoln B. Alexander Jr on behalf of Marissa Alexander
You can get more info on this case my going to: http://justiceformarissa.blogspot.com/