Marissa Alexander’s Attorney: Legal System Must Protect Her, Too
Lawyer for jailed mother of three pledges continued fight for equal justice
Cobbin has been Alexander’s attorney for the most of her 2010 aggravated assault case, in which Alexander failed to convince a judge and jury that her use of force against her abusive husband was self-defense. In March, Alexander was found guilty on three felony assault charges.
On Thursday morning, Cobbin will get a final chance to convince Judge James Daniel to allow a new trial. If the motion is denied, a sentencing hearing would be scheduled for next week.
“I’m going to continue to do everything that I can to try to see that the legal system protects Marissa Alexander,” Cobbin told Loop 21 by phone on Monday.
“Marissa Alexander and her three kids are going to have a terrible next 20 years,” if a judge doesn’t find “some other resolution,” Cobbin said.
Alexander, 31, faces a minimum 20-year prison sentence for using a gun to defend herself against her estranged husband, who has a well-documented history of domestic violence.
[ALSO READ: Marissa’s Stand Your Ground Case Explained]
At issue is the seemingly uneven application of the “Stand Your Ground” law, a controversial defense in Florida that has benefited some defendants and not others. Most notably, comparisons have been drawn between Alexander’s case and that of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman has claimed self-defense in the Martin case and was not arrested or charged for more than a month after the incident. In Alexander’s case, she did not injure anyone and was arrested shortly after firing a warning shot to scare off her attacker. A judge later determined she had not exhausted all options to escape her husband’s abuse.
“This has been a difficult process. When you study to become a lawyer, you count on the legal system to help people,” said Cobbin, who was raised locally in Jacksonville, Fla. and has worked as a public defender for several years.
“It’s tough because if you can’t trust the legal system -- and that’s who you’re supposed to turn to when these things come up -- who do you turn to?”
Nearly two years after the incident, Cobbin still has sharp words for the man at the center of Alexander’s nightmare, her current husband Rico Gray. Loop 21 contacted Gray, who declined an interview without compensation.
Gray and his two sons, who were pre-teens at the time of the incident, are considered the victims in Alexander’s case.
“(Gray’s sons) are victims of domestic violence, as too many children are,” Cobbin said. “But it’s not because of the actions of Marissa Alexander. They’ve become victims because of the actions of their father, who has created the atmosphere of violence, tension, abuse, and fear in their household.”
“He’s taught his sons that it’s okay to lie to the court system and they’ll be no punishment,” he added.
Cobbin has also been impressed with the local response to Alexander’s case.
“From all walks of the community – the churches, activists groups, and schools -- they’ve all got involved in urging the powers that be to do what they believe is just.”
If Cobbin’s retrial motion isn’t granted, Judge Daniel would likely sentence Alexander sometime next week. A prayer vigil will be held on Thursday morning, before Alexander's 8:30 a.m. ET hearing, outside of the Duval County Courthouse.
Contact Loop 21 staff writer Aaron Morrison at 347-855-3140 or email@example.com.