Jacksonville, FL - Florida State Attorney Angela Corey announced on March 1, 2014, that her office is seeking a maximum 60-year sentence in the retrial of Marissa Alexander, beginning in late July.
Marissa Alexander, the 33-year-old African American mother who fired a non-lethal warning shot to fend off her abusive husband, was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2012. State Attorney Corey, who personally prosecuted the case, sought the maximum sentence of 20 years under Florida's mandatory sentencing laws, despite no injuries or deaths. The jury deliberated for 12 minutes before returning a guilty verdict. The judge ordered Alexander's 20-year sentences for the three charges to be served concurrently--at the same time.
However, in 2013, a 1st District Court of Appeals judge overturned Alexander’s conviction and called for a new trial. Corey's latest demand is for the judge to order consecutive sentences, meaning Alexander may serve three 20-year sentences, sixty years, if convicted again.
A statement from the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign called the move by Corey, "A stunning abuse of power." The statement continues, "As a consequence of winning the appeal to hopefully secure a more fair trial, Alexander now faces the alarming prospect that the original devastating sentence could be tripled in the new trial."
Corey's prosecution of Alexander comes on the heels of two humiliating defeats for the State Attorney's office - the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, and the mistrial in the case of Michael Dunn for the murder of Jordan Davis. In both cases, Corey's office mishandled the prosecution of two racist vigilante killers who shot and killed young African American men.
Corey's decision to overzealously prosecute Alexander, who neither killed nor injured anyone, has people across Jacksonville calling for the State Attorney's resignation.
"You can't go two blocks in Jacksonville without meeting someone who has a close friend or family member whose life was ruined because of Angela Corey," said Estefania Galvis, an organizer with the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition and one of the leaders of the “Justice 4 Jordan Davis” protests. “Marissa's case shows how little the state cares about helping women suffering from domestic abuse. Corey has no problem mishandling the prosecution of Zimmerman or Dunn, but she's obsessed with handing Marissa a life sentence."
Alexander was denied access to Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law as a defense, despite responding to aggressive abuse. Critics of Corey and Stand Your Ground say that the law, written by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is unevenly applied to protect racist vigilantes like Dunn and deny the same defense to African Americans, like Alexander.
Women rights activists and domestic abuse survivors are harshly criticizing Corey's persecution of Alexander. Sumayya Fire, a member of the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign, said that Alexander is "facing the very real possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison for that act of self-defense." Fire continued, "That should send a chill down the back of every person in this country who believes that women who are attacked have the right to defend themselves."
On the night of February 15, 2013, more than 70 protesters outraged by the mistrial in the Dunn case took to the streets and marched on Corey's Jacksonville office. Chanting, "Hey-Hey, Ho-Ho, Angela Corey's gotta go!" the protesters presented a giant petition signed by hundreds of people outside of the Duval County Courthouse.
Organizers plan to continue the campaign to force Corey's resignation. Jacksonville protests demanding "Free Marissa Now!" are scheduled for the first day of the trial.