Lawyers for Marissa Alexander, the Florida mother sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot over the head of her then-husband, who she claimed abused her, have filed a motion to have the 32-year-old released on bond.
The move comes as Alexander awaits a new trial, after her conviction was thrown out by an appeals court.
“This application for pretrial release is based upon materially changed circumstances,” the motion reads. “It follows the complete reversal of Alexander’s conviction after a jury trial where pattern jury instructions erroneously required Alexander to prove her own innocence.”
Alexander accused Gray of assaulting her in August 2010, just weeks after she gave birth to their daughter. She said she was trying to leave their home but the garage door was locked, and that she returned to the kitchen armed with a gun she retrieved from her car. Gray’s two sons were in the home at the time of the incident, which left a bullet lodged in the kitchen ceiling.
Alexander was convicted in May 2012 of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 20 years under Florida’s 10-20-life mandatory minimum laws. She had turned down a previous plea offer, and has been imprisoned since February 10, 2011, when her bond was revoked following an altercation with Gray subsequent to the shooting.
She was prosecuted by State Attorney Angela Corey, who was later appointed as special prosecutor in the George Zimmerman trial, and the case has become a similar touchstone for African-Americans and anti-domestic violence advocates.
In arguing that she poses no flight risk, the motion notes that Alexander has two middle-school-aged twins with her former husband, as well as the three-and-a half-year-old daughter with Rico Gray, her current husband and the man at whom she fired the warning shots. Gray admitted to abusing “all of his baby’s mothers except one,” in depositions prior to Alexander’s trial. The motion for release notes that Alexander has had no contact with the toddler since she was six months old.
“The sole issue in the Court’s record that has any bearing on Alexander’s presumptive right to pretrial release is her previously volatile relationship with Gray, a serial batterer of multiple romantic partners,” the motion reads. “But the circumstances of Alexander’s relationship with Gray have substantially changed since Alexander’s bond was revoked nearly three years ago. Alexander has fully served a 365-day misdemeanor sentence arising from an altercation she had with Gray on December 30[,] 1010. Alexander and Gray ended their relationship in January 2011, and they are currently finalizing their divorce through their lawyers. Their three-and-a-half[-]year[-]old daughter … is in Gray’s custody.”
The filing notes that on Wednesday, when her bond hearing is scheduled, “Alexander will have been continuously incarcerated for a period of 1,007 days, or 2 years, 9 months and 3 days.”
The motion goes on to say that Gray and Alexander would have no reason to “communicate directly or interact” if she were released. And her attorneys are proposing a “strict barrier between her and Gray.”
“She respectfully requests release on those conditions so that she may be a mother to her children, especially the youngest, who has had little contact with her mother.”