Meet the Florida State Attorney Who Vindictively Wants to Send Marissa Alexander to Jail for 60 Years
Photo Credit: AFP
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Sixty years. That’s the amount of time Marissa Alexander may face in prison for firing a warning shot that injured no one. If she lives until her release, she will be 93 years old.
Before about a week ago, Alexander was facing a possible 20-year prison sentence if she was found guilty of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. But last Saturday, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey announced that Alexander would have to serve the sentence consecutively (20 years for each count), not concurrently, effectively putting her behind bars for life.
This isn’t the only time Corey has taken the malicious route when it comes to Alexander. From prosecuting her from the start, to pursuing the case after Alexander won an appeal, and then painting Alexander as careless while out on bond, Corey seems to be making sure this domestic violence victim will suffer as much as possible.
“She clearly has an ax to grind,” said Alisa Bierria, member of the Free Marissa Now campaign fighting for Alexander’s release. “It’s clearly a symbol for her in terms of her reputation as a prosecutor. And I don’t know how really else to look at it except that it’s a personal vendetta against this one woman who has done nothing to Angela Corey.”
There are 20 state attorneys in Florida whose responsibility is to represent the state in the prosecution of criminal law violations. Corey, a Republican, is a State Attorney in Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court and in charge of prosecuting crimes committed in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, which include Jacksonville — the city where she was born and raised.
Early on in her law career, Corey had expressed her frustration with increased crime in the neighborhood. While she was an Assistant State Attorney, Corey said in an interview, “I never thought, growing up here, that the homicide rate would ever be as high as it is now. … It bothers me that people aren't recognizing it and trying to do something about it."
Corey seemingly saw herself as the person to get the job done and decided to run for the State Attorney position in 2008. When Corey ran against Jay Plotkin, the chief assistant for her predecessor, her main criticisms were his low conviction rate and Jacksonville’s high homicide rate. Plotkin maintained that Jacksonville’s high crime rate was due to societal problems. Corey defeated her opponent with more than 64 percent of the vote, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
When Corey took office, she axed more than one-fifth of the office —including “half of the office’s investigators, two-fifths of its victim advocates, a quarter of its 35 paralegals, and 48 other support staff.”
“If the decision was made on a strictly political basis, I wasn't surprised,” John McCallum, a contributor to her opponent’s campaign and one of these investigators let go, told The Florida-Times Union.
Corey then soon earned the widely used description for her: “tough as nails.” In 2011, she made headlines for condemning a judge who went against a jury’s vote to put a mentally retarded man convicted of murder on death row. The judge cited his mental disability as reason to let him live and serve a life sentence. Corey filed an objection venting her dissatisfaction, and told the Times Union, "The people of Florida were deprived of a proper death penalty." A new report has found Corey leads the state in death row convictions.
Corey, however, was most notorious in 2011 for considering charging 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez as an adult with murder, which would have made him the youngest person in the country to face a life in prison without parole. Fernandez, however, accepted Corey’s plea deal of seven years in a juvenile facility.