Marissa Alexander Accepts Plea Deal, Forced to Return to Prison

Marissa Alexander, the domestic violence victim facing trial in Florida for firing a warning shot, accepted a plea deal on Monday. The deal required Alexander to plead guilty to aggravated assault in exchange for three years in prison. The 1,030 days she already spent in prison will be counted. Alexander, who was out on bail, will return to Duval County Jail after Monday’s hearing and has 65 days left to serve. She will be released on Jan. 27, and placed under house arrest for two years.


Despite testifying that she was in fear for life when she fired a shot at the ceiling after her husband abused her, Alexander was denied Florida’s Stand Your Ground immunity twice. In his initial deposition, her husband Rico Gray told the same story, adding that he “was in a rage” and mentioning his history of violent abuse. “I got five baby mamas, and I [hit] every last one of them except for one,” he wrote. He also admitted to “four or five” previous instances in which he abused Alexander, including when he “pushed her back and she fell in the bathtub and she hit her head.”

State prosecutor Angela Corey maintained, however, that Alexander did not fear for her life when she fired the gun. The shot injured no one. Alexander was set to face trial on Dec. 8, and faced 60 years in prison after Corey decided she would have to serve the state’s 20-year mandatory minimum sentence consecutively. Alexander was charged with three counts of aggravated assault for firing the shot in the presence of her husband and his two children.

In a press release, Free Marissa Now organizer Alisa Bierria stated:

The plea deal is a relief in some ways, but this is far from a victory. The deal will help Marissa and her family avoid yet another very expensive and emotionally exhausting trial that could have led to the devastating ruling of spending the rest of her life in prison.  Marissa’s children, family, and community need her to be free as soon as possible.  However, the absurdity in Marissa’s case was always the fact that the courts punished and criminalized her for surviving domestic violence, for saving her own life.  The mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years, and then 60 years, just made the state’s prosecution increasingly shocking.  But we have always believed that forcing Marissa to serve even one day in prison represents a profound and systemic attack on black women’s right to exist and all women’s right to self-defense.

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