A Florida woman previously convicted of shooting her estranged husband and sentenced to 20 years in prison was released in time for Thanksgiving on Wednesday.
Marissa Alexander, 33, of Jacksonville, Fla., is now under house arrest while she awaits a new trial. The mother of three had spent the last two years in prison for a domestic violence dispute in which she allegedly fired two warning shots at Rico Gray, Sr., who admitted he had threatened to kill her, NewsOne reports.
“If my kids weren’t there, I knew I probably would have tried to take the gun from her,” Gray said. “If my kids wouldn’t have been there, I probably would have put my hand on her.” When asked by Alexander’s defense attorney what he meant by “put my hand on her,” Gray replied, “probably hit her. I got five baby mammas and I put my hands on every last one of them except for one.”
A judge ruled in September that Alexander would receive a new trial after finding that the initial jury had been given bad instructions during her first trial. The case began in August 2010 when Alexander was arrested for aggravated assault while getting into an argument with Gray, when she fired one shot. Her two children witnessed the altercation. Alexander’s defense attorneys said she fired a warning shot at Gray, while the prosecution argued she shot directly at her estranged husband while he was with her two children.
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Alexander’s defense petitioned for protection under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, saying her estranged husband was abusive, which led her to fire the weapon. The judge ruled the law could not be used in this case since Alexander willingly left the home and returned with the gun.
She was then offered a plea deal to serve three years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea, which her lawyers rejected. The jury later found Alexander guilty of three counts of aggravated assault and was sentenced under Florida’s "10-20-Life" law, which states that any crime involving a gun carries a mandatory minimum sentence. In Alexander’s case -- firing a weapon -- carries a 20-year minimum sentence.
Alexander was released on a $200,000 bond on Wednesday night. She is under house arrest and is required to wear a GPS monitoring device,
"Words cannot express the relief and joy of everyone in the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign that Marissa Alexander is home with her family this Thanksgiving Day," the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign wrote in a statement. "We are thrilled that Ms. Alexander will be able to prepare for her new trial amid the support and love of her children and family from whom she has been separated far too long."
Alexander’s trial is scheduled to begin March 31, 2014.