Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Defense Argues Marissa Alexander's Ex Had A Violent Past


The Jacksonville mother that could face up to 60 years for shooting a firearm was back in court Thursday as several other women testified her estranged husband had a history of abuse.

Marissa Alexander is charged with aggravated assault for shooting into a wall near her ex-husband Rico Gray and his son during an argument in 2010. She claimed she was defending herself against Gray, and argued Stand Your Ground but a judge threw out that defense.

In 2012, she was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for the charge under the state’s 10-20-Life statute, but an appeals court later overturned that ruling.

Thursday, Circuit Judge James Daniel heard several motions from her defense team, including a motion to suppress evidence collected from Alexander’s home on the night of her arrest - including the firearm she used - because it was obtained during a warrantless search. Alexander had not given officers permission to search the home, the defense argued, and officers didn’t enter the search into their police logs.

During the hearing, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office lead investigator Fred Caldwell said he received verbal permission from Gray to search the home and Alexander told him where she placed the firearm.

The defense's motion was  denied. Daniel also denied another motion by the defense to prohibit any mention of a domestic incident on Dec. 30, 2010 following the shooting, in which Alexander was charged with hitting Gray.

But it was the defense’s last motion to include Gray’s history of domestic violence with other women that took the longest.

Daniel heard from five women, including Gray’s ex-wife and two ex-girlfriends, who all testified Gray had a pattern of abusive behavior.

"I know what he's capable of,” said ex-girlfriend Chartrissia Anderson. “He will attack if he's brought to that point.”

Anderson testified that Gray was abusive with her on two different occasions - once when he chased her and placed her in a “bear hug,” and another occasion where he punched her in the lip.

During the latter situation, Anderson said she contacted the police and Gray proceeded to stab himself with a fork and claimed she did it. She said he also told his son to back up his story.

Gray’s ex-wife DaShanna Gray McGriff also testified that Gray attacked her on multiple occasions, including when she was pregnant.

However, prosecutors noted that some of their statements were inconsistent with testimony they gave in previous depositions.

At one point, while Anderson was on the stand, Assistant State Attorney London Kite questioned her about a March 30, 2011 deposition in which she stated Gray was never abusive to her.

When pressed further by Kite, Anderson said she lied under oath because she was living with Gray at the time and he had asked her to do so.

The motion hearing took about five hours and six witnesses before Daniel called for a recess.

It will resume next week, at which point the defense is expected to call their final witness Rico Gray.

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.