On Thursday, January 30, Marissa Alexander was granted a request to have her trial rescheduled for July 28th. Alexander's attorney, Bruce Zimet, said the initial March 31 trial date was too soon for adequate preparation. He said he needs additional time to line up expert witnesses on Battered Women's Syndrome, ballistics, and research into contested testimony at Alexander's first trial.
In 2012, Alexander, an African American mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida, received a 20-year sentence for firing a warning shot to stop her estranged husband, a serial abuser, from attacking her. No one was injured by Alexander's action.
Alexander was denied Stand Your Ground protection and received a lengthy sentence under Florida's Mandatory Minimum laws. After serving nearly three years in prison, Alexander was granted a new trial by a Florida Appeals Court, which said the first trial improperly forced Alexander to prove her innocence. The U.S. legal system puts the burden of proof on the prosecution. Alexander was released on bond on Thanksgiving Day 2013 and is under house detention until her new trial concludes.
"The error in Alexander's first trial has cost the state and taxpayers. But Marissa and her family have paid more than anyone financially and emotionally," says Sumayya Fire, a leader of the national Free Marissa Now mobilization and the African American/Black Women's Cultural Alliance. "While we are anxious to see Marissa exonerated and free from house detention as soon as possible, we also want her to get the best trial possible. Marissa's family appreciates the court's flexibility in rescheduling the trial and allowing more time for preparation," says Fire. "Marissa's thousands of supporters are confident she will win when the jurors understand her situation as a battered woman. Justice really demands that State Prosecutor Angela Corey drop the charges now and not put this woman through the cost and anxiety of another trial."
At the January 30 hearing, Judge James Daniel said he would impose strict rules on media coverage of the case in order to "control what picture is being shown" in pre-trial publicity. The judge also wants to ban live-streaming and the use of Twitter in the courtroom. Supporters of Alexander believe it is crucial that the prosecutors' office not be the only public source of information. In early January, Prosecutor Corey attempted to revoke Alexander's bond and went public with accusations that Alexander had "repeatedly flouted" the conditions of her bond; “demonstrated her utter disregard for conforming her behavior to the rules others must abide by"; and "disrespected" the Court in "blatant fashion.”
In fact, Corey's office knew that all of Alexander's trips outside her home had been fully approved by an experienced Correctional Service Counselor. Judge Daniel upheld Alexander's bond and said that her trips outside the house had followed correct procedures and were not intentional violations.