Exclusive: Marissa Alexander Talks Her Case and Her Kids
Before sentencing, Florida mother of three speaks on what’s at stake for her family.
Marissa Alexander, the 31-year-old mother of three, denied a “Stand Your Ground” defense against her abusive husband, faces a 20-year prison sentence on Friday.
Her ex-husband and father to two of her children, Lincoln Alexander, arranged a phone interview with her from jail on Monday evening. Earlier that evening, State Attorney Angela Corey contacted Loop 21 to dispute a “misleading” story she said Marissa, her family and her attorney have given to the media.
Marissa sticks by the details of her story; that in 2010, she fired a gun to prevent a fight between herself and her estranged current husband, Rico Gray. She responded to Corey’s statements to Loop 21, talks about the "Stand Your Ground" law and pledges to continue fighting for her children.
Marissa and her family say they are preparing for an appeals process.
Loop 21: State Attorney Angela Corey believes the media has done a poor job at informing the public about your case, in a way that’s fair to all parties. Is there something missing here?
Marissa Alexander: What’s missing is… unfortunately, Angela Corey is getting bits and pieces (of the story) from somebody who prefers perverted justice, which is Rico Gray. He’s gone on sworn statement and lied several times. So, I find it very difficult for her to believe anything that he has to say.
Loop 21: So, your story (in the media) isn’t inconsistent with anything contained in court records or anything used to prosecute your case?
MA: The truth doesn’t change. My truth has stayed the same. One of (Rico’s) his sons have corroborated my story, as well as Rico’s deposition.
Loop 21: Why then does Mrs. Corey believe you acted out of anger, not fear in the shooting incident? If your story hasn’t changed and is consistent with the trial testimony you mentioned, shouldn’t that have worked in your favor?
MA: It wasn’t an issue out of anger. One does not get an injunction and keep it in place for no violence because they wouldn’t fear somebody taking the steps to harm them. What Mrs. Corey is failing to let you guys know…I had just given birth. I’d just given birth to a premature child. So when (Rico) he jumped on me, I had just given birth.
Loop 21: Your attorney and your ex-husband have also provided accounts consistent with yours – the fight in the bathroom of your home, the details about the garage malfunction which may have allowed you to escape and how and where you fired the gun. Mrs. Corey told Loop 21 that what they’ve said to the media is “shameful.”
MA: To me, it’s absurd for (Corey) her to believe somebody who has a violent past with women, which is Rico…that I was the one who was angry. If you read the (motion) Judge (Libby) Senterfitt denied, you can tell who is the aggressor. If you read (Rico’s) his deposition, you can tell who is the aggressor. She’s the (state) attorney. I feel like she should know that. The facts are in black and white.
Loop 21: Seems like you’ve had trouble establishing that you were afraid. Do you feel that way?
MA: You cannot define my fear. That’s the problem everybody is going to have in Florida with the Stand Your Ground (law.) You’re going to try to define somebody’s fear. It’s going to be difficult to do that. They’re also going to tell me at that point, once we can’t determine your fear, whether or not you took somebody’s life is going to help us determine (a self-defense claim.) You tell me (Stand Your Ground covers) deadly force. And I chose that day not to kill my husband. It was a deterrent, and thank God it actually worked. Had it not, we would have had another statistic. And that would have been me being dead.
Loop 21: Clearly, you believe the Stand Your Ground law needs some work.
MA: You have to be really honest about it. The legislators, the judges and law enforcement are having a problem defining and understanding how to apply the Stand Your Ground (law.) I don’t understand how we can assume that a jury can do the same thing.
Loop 21: You tried your case. You argued your points. You’re still facing 20 years in jail. What needs to happen so that you don’t see all of those years behind bars?
MA: Look at the facts of the case and be fair. To me, it’s a human rights issue. You tell me that I can bear arms. You tell me that I can go to class and get a permit (to carry). And you tell me everything that I need to do to get on the right side of the law, which also includes getting an injunction for no violence in place. And then you try to dictate to me my level of fear. That could be anybody. That could be a male…a female…somebody Hispanic…(Asian American), white…it doesn’t matter. It’s a human rights issue.
Loop 21: What are you thoughts as you mull over your sentencing this Friday?
MA: Right now I have a child that I don’t even have a relationship with. I have to continue to fight. I have children who need me. This is my journey and I have to go through it. It’s a mandatory sentence, so it is what it is. But I’m not going to give up. And it’s nothing personal. I completely understand what (Corey) she has to do. But at the same time, I think any attorney can get a conviction. It takes a great one to get justice. And this is just not justice.
Contact Loop 21 staff writer Aaron Morrison at 347-855-3140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.