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By Subhash Kateel

CLICK HERE FOR AN IMPORTANT UPDATE IN THIS CASE!

In has been over a week since Marissa Alexander, a mother of
three, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for aggravated assault after firing
a gun into a wall that hurt no one in what she claimed was an attempt to defend
herself against an abusive husband. 
Since the sentencing last Friday, the prosecutor in the case, Angela
Corey and her star witness/Marissa’s allegedly abusive husband, Rico Gray, have been on a virtual speaking tour telling their sides of the story, sometimes together.
While Angela Corey, who is also the prosecutor in the
Trayvon Martin case, reached out to several press outlets (including ours) in
the past few weeks, I believe that her and Rico Gray’s statements to the press, this week in particular, have been marked by inaccuracies, distortions of truth and
blatant lies.  Here are a few of them.
1.  Marissa  “shot a gun at” or “discharged a gun to
kill” her husband and his children the day she was arrested.
This week, Angela Corey’s office shifted from merely having
a different take on the facts than Marissa Alexander to straight out lying about
those facts.  In a recent interview she
gave to CBS news, she stated:
“She [Marissa] discharged a gun to kill them, [her
husband and his children] and she has to answer for that.”
This is a disappointing step from past statements made by
either Corey or Rico Gray where they claim that Marissa “aimed and shot” at
Rico Gray and his two young children that were in the house at the time.  Disappointing because the accusation that she
“aimed and shot” at someone is probably wrong, but the insinuation that she
tried to kill anyone is a bald faced lie. 
To prove it is a lie, you would either have to do hours of research…or
just read the crime Marissa was charged with…out loud…once.  Please join me:
 “Aggravated Assault…without intent to kill.” 
At no point does the evidence or the charge even suggest
that she was trying to kill anyone.  But
what about the claim that she “aimed and shot” at her husband and his
kids?  When looking at the pictures from
the crime scene and listening to the 911 tape, which Angela Corey told me would
both prove that Marissa “shot at” someone, you don’t get the sense that either
piece of evidence proves any of that.  For one, as
I have said before, Rico Gray tells three different stories on the 911 tape:

:46-“She was shooting at me and my son”

4:45-“I can’t believe she’d shoot in front of me…[corrects
himself] shoot at [emphasis his] me…I’m so pissed off right now.”
7:12-“She just aimed the gun at us then she shot…well I know
she probably wasn’t aiming at my kids…but she might as well be…”

The most revealing section of the 911 tape is at 4:45, where
Rico Gray seems to change his story and correct himself mid-sentence.  He first seems to imply that Marissa fired a
gun in front of him (rather than at him), and then quickly restates and almost emphasizes to the 911 dispatcher
that she fired at him. And this was supposed to be one of the strongest pieces
of evidence to prove Marissa’s guilt.
Even the photos that Angela Corey’s office gave me, which
she said would clear up any doubt that Marissa shot at her husband, show a
single bullet hole at least a foot into the wall with an exit hole in an upward
direction (and not “ricocheting” as Corey has claimed). Looking at the picture,
it seems clear that if Marissa was aiming at anyone, they were either behind
the wall or she is the worst shot in the history of people to ever qualify for a
Florida Concealed Weapons Permits. 
Bullet hole pic 1

Bullet hole pic 2

2.  Rico Gray never
abused Marissa or anyone else.  If he
did, it is not relevant to the case.

The second most disappointing set of statements Angela Corey
has made to the press relate to Rico Gray’s well-documented, yet often denied,
history of violence towards his significant other(s). This history of violence
has frequently been minimized or deemed irrelevant by Angela Corey.  Just this week, she took the unusual step of
allowing Rico Gray to speak to the Jacksonville-based media from her own office.   In his virtual joint press
conference with Corey, Rico Gray implied that the stuff he said in a past
deposition about having “five babies’ mamas” and putting “hands on every last one of them except
one” was a lie to protect Marissa. 
Lie or not, Angela Corey has insisted that “not all of that is
relevant,” to the case.
To be clear, Rico Gray is not on trial.  To also be clear, we technically live in a
system that believes you are innocent until proven guilty.  But to be even clearer, this man has told a
different tale about his domestic violence (or three tales in the 911 tape)
virtually every time he speaks to someone. 
But the story that hasn’t been told enough is that of the other
women that have been previously involved with Rico Gray.  In fact, the jury was unable to see several
letters written by former wives,
girlfriends or in-laws of Rico Gray (many that barely knew Marissa Alexander)
that recounted bone-chilling stories of pistol-whipping, being beaten and
stripped of clothing, and having door locks super-glued on them. Perhaps the
most relevant part of their accounts isn’t the alleged history of abuse but
Rico Gray’s alleged attempts to cover up that abuse by manipulating and lying
to law enforcement. At least one of those alleged cover-ups involved Gray
enlisting his younger son, who was also a key witness in Marissa’s trial, in
lying to law enforcement. In a previous piece, we highlighted the story of
Chartrissia Anderson, who claimed that during a specific incident in which she
called the police on Gray, he stabbed himself with a fork and asked his younger
son to tell the police that Chartrissia did it. 
But there are other cases too. 
  • An ex-partner and mother of one of Rico Gray’s children
    (the same one that testified in court during Marissa’s trial) alleged that
    Rico called the police on her after he threw a chair through her car
    windshield, telling the police she was at his house threatening him with a
    gun.  According to her, the police never
    found a gun because she never had one. “[Rico] has had me arrested 3 times
    because I fought back.” She said. “He is the biggest liar I have ever met…he
    make[s] you believe he is innocent.”
  • Another letter written to the court by a woman who didn’t
    experience Rico’s attacks but witnessed his rage against one of his former
    partners stated,  “I can only imagine
    what he did behind closed doors with Marissa. 
    I can attest to being in fear for my life, and he wasn’t upset with me…”
So what exactly is so irrelevant about a star witness’
history of violence, especially when that history of violence includes
allegations of lying to law enforcement and recruiting other eyewitnesses (his
children) in covering up his abuse?  I
have yet to hear an answer that satisfies me. It is also not clear why Rico
Gray’s recantation of his 66-page deposition admitting to abusing all five of
his “babies’ mamas, except one,” is taken at face value.  Admitting to abusing five
ex-girlfriends/wives  “except one” seems
like a very oddly specific lie to make up to protect someone.
3.   Angela Corey was
just doing her job. If you want to blame something, blame Florida’s 10/20/Life
mandatory minimum laws.  
In some ways, Florida’s 10/20/life mandatory minimum
sentencing laws, the ones that gave Marissa an automatic 20 year sentence just
for firing a gun without hitting anyone, are absolving the prosecutor in this
case of any sins in the same way that the “stand your ground” debate helped to
absolve the police and original prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case of their
mishandling of his murder investigation. In an otherwise good piece on CNN’s
website, Roland Martin points to the 10/20/Life
law as being the real shame of the Marissa Alexander case. If only that were
true. Despite Angela Corey’s insistence to me that she tried her best to be
equitable in Marissa’s case, the record says the opposite. While it is clear
that the 10/20/life laws of Florida really do tie the hands of judges in
sentencing, they often end up making the prosecutor the king/queen of the
courtroom.  As a former prosecutor and a
defense attorney told me on my show Wednesday, Angela Corey had plenty of
choices if she wanted to properly penalize Marissa for shooting a wall but
still ensure a fairer sentence (as compared to people that …you know…decapitated someone). The original arrest report, seems to confirm that fact.  
If you look at the police report, the firearm wasn’t listed
under the charges.  The firearms aspect
of the aggravated assault charges seems to have been added on later (or
enhanced) by Corey’s office.  As former prosecutor Eric Matheny told me on the show, at that point, Angela Corey didn’t
have to add the enhancement that brings with it the mandatory 20 year
sentence. 
“I’ll tell you what they could’ve done because I had this exact situation…I had a client who was an elderly gentleman…in his 80’s…he was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm…what [the prosecutors] did was they charged him with aggravated assault, they did not list the firearm enhancement…punishable by five years in prison, no mandatory minimum…if found guilty the judge would’ve been free to do whatever the judge wants to do…prison…probation…”
Civil rights attorney John De Leon also argues that there
are other, more appropriate charges that Marissa could have been charged with
that would have had severe sentences, but not quite the 20-year mandated prison
term.

“An assault (second degree misdemeanor) could have been charged instead of an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon…which would probably have been the appropriate charge in this case.”

4.  A 20-year sentence
is necessary to discourage people from firing guns.
The six people or so, besides Angela Corey, that believe
Marissa Alexander’s sentence is appropriate reiterate a point that she made to
the press:
“I feel like when someone fires a loaded gun inside of
a home…we have to have tough laws that say you don’t do that”
In talking with domestic violence survivors that are
outraged by this case, Marissa’s conviction seems to be having the opposite
effect of what Ms. Corey suggests. “If she was going to get twenty years
anyway, she should have just killed him [Gray], so other women wouldn’t have to
suffer!” has been a common refrain in personal conversations and comment boards
since Marissa’s sentencing.  That is part of a “perverse irony” Greg Newburn from Families Against Mandatory Minimums describes:
“Let’s face it, there is a significant possibility that she wouldn’t have faced any prosecution at all had she killed him, because there wouldn’t have been a second story to contradict hers…her decision not to kill this person is what put her in prison for 20 years…that’s a perverse irony of the law [10/20/life].”
There are many reasons I keep talking about this
case.  For one, victims have a fundamental
right to stop being victims.  I also
believe that the outcome of Marissa’s case, coupled with the outcome of the
Trayvon Martin case, will for generations to come determine the future of race
relations, victim’s rights, defendant’s rights and basic conceptions of
justice.  As it stands now, there is a
chance that of two individuals, both claiming self defense in a case prosecuted by
the same person, one may be imprisoned for twenty years for hurting no one
while the other just might go free after killing someone.

As the first outlet to read and disclose the actual evidence in the case to the public, please read some of our other work on the case, including The Different Views on Marissa Alexander’s Case. To check out our other work on Marissa Alexander, check them out here, here, here and here.

Also check out our radio program where we interview Angela Corey below.