Campaign seeks to dismiss charges against Marissa Alexander

Appeals court overturned woman's conviction

By Kumasi Aaron - Reporter/The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Next week, Marissa Alexander could appear before a judge for the first time since an appeals court overturned her conviction.

It's expected she'll be back at the Duval County jail as her pretrial process starts all over again.

A judge has pushed the court date back a few days, but her supporters say that just gives them time to send more letters to the state attorney's office as a part of a national campaign.

"The letter writing campaign has been very successful in states, if I can say Chicago, Detroit, New York, right here in Florida, Miami," said Aleta Alston-Toure, head of Free Marissa Now.

Supporters have sent about 300 letters to the state attorney's office asking to dismiss Alexander's case. They say the mother of three was defending herself when she fired a shot in the direction of her husband and kids.

A jury convicted Alexander of three counts of aggravated armed assault, and she had been serving a 20-year prison sentence.

"She never should have had to have proven herself innocent," Alston-Toure said. "You're supposed to be innocent and proven guilty. Instead, she was guilty and had to prove herself innocent."

The campaign started earlier this month when an appeals court granted Alexander a new trial, saying the judge committed a fundamental error in jury instructions by transferring the burden of proof that she fired in self-defense from the state to Alexander.

Now the campaign is asking supporters to write State Attorney Angela Corey, urging her to drop the charges against Alexander.

They're even giving a sample letter, which reads in part, "Dear Ms. Corey, You have an opportunity to allow an innocent person to go free without further cost to the state and without further trauma to this woman and her family."

The state attorney's office says it has received 300 letters, but it has no intention of dropping the charges.

It issued a statement saying, "The SAO will continue to pursue justice for our two child victims and their father who were endangered by the shot the defendant fired at them."

That's not stopping supporters like Anthony Heard, who, in addition to writing a letter, appeared before Jacksonville City Council.

"It's saying there is support, that we believe in you, that we will fight for you, regardless of what anybody else says," Heard said. "We're not going to give up. We don't want you to lose hope. Most importantly, we don't want her to lose hope."

Heard is encouraging others to keep writing, despite the position of the state attorney's office. He said everyone's letter helps, even if it's not about dismissing the case, but just support.

"You may not think it has an affect, but it does have an affect," Heard said. "It lets the state, it lets Marissa, it lets everyone know that, 'We believe in you, we're fighting for you.'"

When Alexander gets back to Jacksonville and appears before a judge, her attorney says he is planning to file a motion for a bond to be set as she waits for a new trial.

He believes that a jury hearing the full case with the correct law will acquit her of all charges.

Alexander's supporters have talked with her about their campaign, and they said she's encouraged by it.

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