JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At a hearing Wednesday morning in the retrial of Marissa Alexander, the judge said a hearing will be held May 16 to determine if there will be a "stand your ground" hearing later on.
Alexander is charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing what she claims was a warning shot into a wall near her estranged husband, Rico Gray, and his two young sons. Her stand your ground motion was denied in the initial case, and she was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison due to the state's 10-20-Life statutes for discharging a gun during a felony. Before her trial, she turned down a three-year plea deal.
Alexander's conviction was overturned on appeal.
Alexander's defense lawyer, Bruce Zimet, has filed hundreds of pages of pretrial motions, including the request for a new stand your ground hearing. Zimet told Judge James Daniel that with the way the motion is phrased, it could have a different legal standard and fit into one part of the statute versus the other.
Daniel also announced Wednesday that jury selection for her retrial would begin on July 21 with a 300-person pool, and he hopes the trial could begin the following Monday.
The judge also touched on whether to sequester the jurors once they are picked. He said he didn't want to sequester them if it wasn't necessary and that it should be a last resort. The prosecution and defense seemed to agree on that as well. But nothing will be settled until sometime in June.
In other pending motions in the case, prosecutors argued for a shorter juror questionnaire, but defense lawyers want to have a longer questionnaire to get the jurors initial opinions on stand your ground and self-defense issues. Those issues will be discussed again at the May 16 hearing.
"There's a lot of debate on changing the law with what may happen between now and May 16, No. 1," defense attorney Faith Gay said. "No. 2, we think there's a different statute that applies more specifically here. The attack here was in her home and we want to focus the court on that."
A group of local pastors have asked the state attorney's office to offer Alexander a new three-year plea deal. Pastor Ken Adkins said he's heard the prosecution and defense attorneys are in conversation about it, but Zimet would not comment on it.
"As a pastor, I'm a little disappointed because I was hoping that they would end this," Adkins said. "I think you guys heard a lot of the clogging that's happening with the system, all of the murders and stuff, so I was really hoping that this would kind of go away."