Judge rules Marissa Alexander can remain on bond

Hearing to determine whether to raise or revoke bond while she awaits trial

Author: Kumasi Aaron, Reporter, weekend anchor, kaaron@wjxt.com
Chris Parenteau, General assignment reporter, cparenteau@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 10 2014 07:04:33 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 10 2014 10:18:39 PM EST
Marissa Alexander and her attorney, Bruce Zimet, outside courthouse
JACKSONVILLE, Fla -

After hearing arguments on whether or not to revoke or raise the bond for Marissa Alexander, Circuit Judge James Daniel ruled she can remain out of jail while awaiting retrial.

At the heart of the state attorney's motion to modify or revoke her bond was  whether the permission she received from the person supervising her release was sufficient for her to leave her home, even though it was a violation of the judge's conditions of bond.

Alexander's attorneys say she sought and obtained permission to run errands to the bank, her former attorney's office, even the hair salon.

The state attorney's office argued the supervisor who granted Alexander permission to leave cannot override the judge's order.

After a one-hour hearing Friday morning, Judge Daniel said he does not believe Alexander willfully violated the stipulations of her release. Calling the actions of the community control supervisor a "mistake," Daniel ruled the current bond will remain in effect.

When Alexander was released on bond, the judge issued a specific order that she must stay home unless she has a medical emergency, court appearances or permission from the court.

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In court Friday morning, Daniel asked Community Control Supervisor April Wilson: "Is there anything in my order that grants you the authority to make judgment calls?"

Wilson, an 18-year employee of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, said she believed the requests she granted were consistent with the judge's order, saying she used her judgment and has never been questioned about her decisions before.

The state said the judges order was specific and Alexander took advantage of it. But the judge said the state did not present any evidence that Alexander sought out anyone or pressured anyone to get a different interpretation of her bond or do what she wanted.

"We're very pleased with the judge's ruling," defense attorney Bruce Zimet said. "This is obviously a very serious and important matter, and we believe the judge listened to the evidence and ruled, as you heard."

"I think it was handled how it needed to be handled," prosecutor Rich Mantei said. "The judge is now aware and everybody else is now aware of what is going on. So things got brought out in the open, and that's always a good thing."

Now Alexander will not be allowed to leave her home except for court, to go to retrial services, or if she has a medical emergency.

JSO released a statement after Friday's hearing, saying, "It appears that our counselor violated the court order for the home detention release of Marissa Alexander. We are conducting an administrative investigation, and any necessary corrective action will be taken."

Alexander is facing a second trial for firing a gun in the direction of her husband. The First District Court of Appeals threw out her first conviction because of faulty jury instructions. The case has attracted national attention because Alexander's stand-your-ground petition was denied, and that her conviction drew a 20-year sentence -- which is called for under Florida's 10-20-Life sentencing guidelines for any conviction for a crime that involves firing a gun.

Local attorney Gene Nichols, who isn't involved in the case, says that any confusion would likely be cleared up at Friday morning's hearing.

"They will be reminded of that that starting from here on out if she is to go anywhere outside of what the judge entered as his order that she is going to have to get court permission and not permission from those who are monitoring her," Nichols said.