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A judge sentenced a Jacksonville mother to 20 years in prison on Friday, for firing a gun over the head of her husband, who she claimed physically abused her.
Marissa Alexander, 31, testified that Rico Gray physically assaulted her on August 1, 2010, before she fled to the garage, and, unable to exit through the malfunctioning automatic door opener, returned to the kitchen with her gun. She fired a shot over Gray’s head, causing a bullet to lodge in the ceiling.
lexander says that on August 1, 2010, her husband went into a rage and tried to strangle her after reading some text messages she sent to her ex-husband. She fled the family home, got to the garage and realized she didn't have her keys. Fearing for her life, she says she grabbed a gun and went back into the home to retrieve her keys.
She says her husband threatened to kill her, and to keep him at bay, she fired a warning shot into a wall.
Men are much less likely than women to talk about domestic abuse to friends and family – infact research suggests they are 5 times less likely to do this (Stets & Strauss, 1990). In general, only 1-2% of men who are assaulted by their female partners are likely to report the abuse to the police or outside agency (Fontes, 1998).
“Because she was not fleeing from an abuser,” Corey told theGrio in answer to why Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was not applied in Alexander’s case, even though Florida’s Supreme Court has ruled in the past that a woman being abused in her own home by her husband has no duty to flee. “
A judge heard all the facts and evidence and said that this was not a case of ‘Stand Your Ground,’ Corey said. “You have to compare what [Marissa Alexander] said to what the victims said.
There were two young children there as well. None of the physical evidence corroborates her story. There was the 911 call … and you can clearly hear the distress in Rico Gray’s voice. They had a verbal argument [in which] he said ‘I’m outta here,’ and she said, ‘I’ve got something for you.’”
For whatever reason, she went back into the house and confronted Gray, firing a single shot, which Lincoln Alexander and Marissa, on her website, maintain was a warning shot fired into the air. But Corey says that shot was fired at “adult height,” directly at Gray, who was standing in the adjacent living room with his sons, who were aged 9 and 13 at the time
”[Gray] told his boys, ‘get your clothes, we’re out of here.’ And she and went in the garage and into the glove compartment, got out a gun, got it in a ‘ready to fire’ position — it’s a semiautomatic and it had the safety off, and she had a round in the chamber,” Corey said. “And she walked back into the kitchen and fired the gun at him. He was standing the living room and it went through the wall at about adult head height, and ricocheted off the roof or the wall. And thank God it didn’t hit one of the kids.”
But Corey insists that “the idea that she fired a warning shot is absolutely not what the physical evidence showed.” Police retrieved a shell casing from the kitchen floor, the weapon, which was lying on the living room table, and they observed the bullet hole, which had gone through the kitchen wall and lodged in the ceiling.
a man who admitted to past incidents of domestic violence, including a 2009 incident that put Alexander in the hospital after he shoved her into a bathtub, causing her to hit her head — Corey sees him as a victim, pure and simple, on that day.
“He was either prosecuted for that and there were restraining orders about that.” She emphasizes that both parties took out restraining orders against each other, and she adds, “that only becomes relevant as to whether he was endangering her at that moment.”
the SWAT team had to respond to the house to get her to come outside.”
.....And what does it say about her fear of Rico Gray that she disobeyed a sitting judge and went over to confront him” four months after the incident — one that led Alexander to plead no contest to a domestic battery charge of her own. In that case, Corey said, Gray called 911 again, after Alexander “gave him a black eye.”
She didn’t have to get 20 years, because I took into account their prior domestic history and her lack of a [criminal] record, and we offered her the three year mandatory minimum” in a plea bargain attempt before the trial. Corey said that offer was made last October, when she met with both Alexander and her attorney, Kevin Cobbin, and separately with Gray. As to why she never offered probation, Corey said that Alexander wasn’t a good candidate.
“She disobeyed a sitting judge”
by going to Gray’s house to confront him again, four months after the initial incident while she was free on bail – an incident for which Alexander was arrested again and pleaded no contest to domestic assault.
In that case, Corey says Alexander went to drop off their daughter, but wound up giving Alexander a black eye. “I was using my discretion to wave the statutory maximum, and offered her a three year [sentence] with credit for time served.
Three years was for two reasons: one, she fired a gun inside a home at two children and Rico Gray, and [two,] she was not a candidate for probation because of her anger problems or whatever caused her to go over there again.”
turning his case into justifiable homicide under "stand your ground"