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Judge: Exes Will Be Allowed To Testify Abuse In Alexander Trial

Rhema Thompson

Three women will be allowed to testify that Marissa Alexander’s ex-husband had an abusive past, a judge has ruled. But that ruling comes with stipulations.

Circuit Judge James Daniel said Wednesday morning that he would grant a defense motion to allow the testimony of Rico Gray’s ex-wife and ex-girlfriends, provided several conditions were met. For instance, in order for any of the witnesses to testify, Alexander will have to take the stand, first.

“She must first present sufficient evidence that she had a reasonable belief of imminent death or great bodily harm and supports her contention that the victim [Rico Gray] was the initial aggressor,” Daniel said.

Alexander, 34, is charged with firing off a gun during an argument with Gray in 2010. She has claimed she shot the firearm because she feared for her life.  Earlier this year, she was denied a motion to use the state's Stand Your Ground defense.

Daniel said testimony from Gray’s three exes will be limited to information that directly relates to Gray's state of mind or motive.

“Any past act of domestic violence committed by the victim that would indicate a state of mind predisposed to initiate a physical confrontation under circumstances similar to those in this case would be admissible,” he said.

However, Daniel said he won’t allow information regarding what followed the altercations, such as who was arrested and who was prosecuted. The witnesses also won’t be allowed to corroborate each other’s stories on the stand.

“No two witnesses will be allowed to testify about the same collateral incident,” he said.

Alexander’s motion hearing began Oct. 8 with testimony from Gray’s ex-wife DaShanna Gray McGriff and two ex-girlfriends Chartrissia Anderson and Charity Hunter, who each alleged that Gray had been physically violent on multiple occasions. Gray’s ex-wife said at one point, Gray broke her nose and on another occasion he locked her in a closet for hours while she was pregnant.

Gray denied all of the allegations when he took the stand. He also told attorneys he lied in a previous deposition about abusing the women in order to help Alexander stay out of prison.

Last month, prosecutors argued that Gray’s past was irrelevant to the case because Alexander was not aware of  his history of violence the night she shot off her gun. Daniel appeared to side with the prosecution, reprimanding the defense several times throughout the hearing for getting off focus.

However, Wednesday, Alexander’s attorney Bruce Zimet said he was not surprised with Daniel’s decision.

“We were convinced that the judge was listening carefully and going to evaluate what the law was and that’s exactly what he did,” he said.

In 2012, despite claims of self-defense, Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault in the case and sentenced to 20 years in prison. That sentence was later thrown out by an appeals court. 

Alexander's second trial is set to begin Dec. 1.

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.