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Justice Not Served: The Case of Marissa Alexander and Domestic Abuse

Naveen Sultan about almost 2 years ago


We'd like to welcome our new volunteer Danielle Leppo to WMNF. She is a recent graduate of USF with a degree in English and concentration in Writing, Rhetoric and Technology. Danielle worked as a copy editor at The Oracle. She will be contributing to the WMNF blog weekly with compelling and thought-provoking content on social justice and the arts. Read her first post below!

Marissa Alexander: Aggressor or Victim?

by: Danielle Leppo

Marissa Alexander recently received a twenty year sentence for defending herself against her abusive husband Rico Gray. She was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault because Florida State Attorney Angela Corey claims “[Alexander] was not in fear” at the time she fired the gun.

Not in fear?


A victim of physical and emotional abuse, particularly a repeat victim, lives in constant fear. In the November 2010 deposition, Gray reveals compelling details regarding a history of violence against women in addition to the Aug. 2010 incident. Gray admitted to pushing Alexander in the bathroom during the beginning of the altercation and detailed entrapping her in the home and preventing her from leaving. He admitted to telling her time and time again during the course of their relationship, “If I can’t have you, nobody going to have you.” He is a habitual abuser of women “physically, emotionally.”

Gray even admitted to previously telling Alexander he would kill her if she cheated on him, and after reading text messages in Alexander’s phone from an ex, Gray verbally and physically attacked her. It is perfectly reasonable to think your life is at stake at this point in time. She defended herself as best as she could during that terrifying moment and unfortunately, “When a woman or minority is claiming they are defending themselves, they don’t get the benefit of the doubt,” says Alexander’s lawyer Bruce Zimet.

Not only is she a woman and black, she is a survivor of years of psychological and physical abuse, and a domestic violence victim should not be treated as a criminal.

According to Rita Smith, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “Most battered women who kill in self-defense end up in prison. There is a well-documented bias against women.”

Marissa Alexander’s case is just one example of the systematic injustices of racism and misogyny. Instead of aiding a victim of abuse, the state has penalized her for a being terrorized and scared woman, afraid and uncertain of her fate.

As Marissa awaits her appeal, I ask the governor to take a step to end institutionalized racism and sexism and pardon her immediately. Several petitions are circulating online;’s boasts more than 78,000 signatures. What do you think? Should Marissa be freed from prison or does she deserve twenty years? Share your comments below.

Quotes in this post were taken from this Daily Beast article.

Excerpt from Marissa Alexander Deposition: Husband Rico Gray's Questioning Excerpt from  Marissa Alexander Alleged Victim Deposition.

Marissa Alexander Alleged Victim Deposition by Lincoln Bernard Alexander Jr

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