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Marissa Alexander To Remain Free Following Bond Motion Denial

Rhema Thompson

The woman at the center of a case involving race, gender and the state’s controversial gun laws will remain free on bond, a judge ruled Friday.Circuit Judge James Daniel denied a motion to revoke bond for Marissa Alexander, calling her actions “a mistake.”

Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei requested Alexander’s bond be revoked. In the motion, the State Attorney’s Office alleged Alexander violated the conditions of her release by going shopping for clothes, getting a driver’s license and seeing a relative of her estranged husband Rico Gray.

Alexander, 33, was released on bond in November while awaiting retrial for a case in which she faces aggravated assault charges for firing a gun into a wall during a heated argument with Gray.

Alexander’s bond had previously been revoked before her initial trial after she had contact with Gray. The encounter between the two led to her arrest on domestic abuse charges.

In court Friday, Mantei said Alexander violated the conditions of her release at least nine times.

“Having already been on release once before and have that release been revoked, this defendant is not some inexperienced individual that doesn’t understand what a court order is,” Mantei said. “That defense doesn’t really apply in this situation.”

Despite the state's position, Alexander’s defense did apply that argument.

Defense attorney Bruce Zimet said that Alexander sought and received approval for every trip she took by her appointed supervisor, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office correctional counselor April Wilson.

During the hearing, Wilson took the stand and confirmed that she authorized every outing Alexander made, noting that the defendant’s trip to the home of her sister-in-law, who is Gray’s brother, was for bond money. A subsequent a trip to the store was to get a money order for the payment. 

“[If] you request things of me, I submit your name, I refer you to the court and I make my decision,” Wilson explained on the stand.

Wilson said she has served with the Sheriff’s Office for about 18 years.

Questions did arise over language in the court order regarding Alexander’s right to pick up her children at school as well as the methods of paying bond.

At one point, Mantei stated that according to the court order Alexander could have submitted her payments online. However, Wilson argued that the option is not available to defendants.

In the end, Judge Daniel sided with the defense, stating that Alexander did not commit a “willful violation,” and adding that any further trips by Alexander must be approved only by the court, and the court alone.

“It was a mistake and they happen,” he said. “We’re going to go back to square one in the court order where it says that no one has the discretion to authorize the defendant to leave under any circumstances. The court is the only entity that can enter those orders."

A pre-trial conference for Alexander is scheduled for Feb. 3. Her re-trial is expected to begin March 31.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.