Group: Support for Marissa Alexander is growing

By Kumasi Aaron - Reporter/The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two days after Marissa Alexander was released from jail on bail, a national legal association visits Jacksonville to lend its support to those fighting for her freedom.

Earlier this year, an appeals court overturned the 2012 conviction of the Jacksonville mother of three for firing a shot in the direction of her husband and his two kids, saying the jury instructions were faulty. 

On Wednesday, a judge agreed to release Alexander on $200,000 bond as she awaits a retrial.  She must also wear a GPS ankle monitor and obey other terms of her bail.

Alexander's close family is speaking out just days after she was released from jail.

Needless to say, the past few years have been difficult for Pastor Al Berry of Faith Chapel Church of God and his family, seeing Alexander jailed, convicted and sent to prison.

"We became very attached to her, she has been to our home, she has been a part of our extended family if you will, to the point of being like a daughter that we didn't have," said Berry.

There's a new ray of hope for Berry and the family as Alexander is set for a new trial, and just days ago released on bond until then. It's something she says she's thankful for this holiday season.

"She's glad to be home obviously, she's glad to be with her family and that's what we were praying for," said Berry. "It's good that it happened during this time where she can be with her children and her parents and her other siblings, as well."

Berry is the godfather of Alexander's twins. He's also one of those who spoke in court, promising the judge he'd offer her a job at his church if she got out.

"We were in a position to offer her a custodial position at the church, where she would be accounted for in terms of employment," Berry said, "and that was on record during the bond hearing and that offer is still in effect."

Berry said everything is happening quickly and it's quite the whirlwind. He said they've got a long way to go, but spirits are high and he's telling her to take things one step at a time.

"When we let her settle in and processed the idea of being home and let her get acclimated to the family environment, and then we'll go from there, but the offer still stands," said Berry.

The National Lawyers Guild -- a nationwide organization of lawyers, law students and legal workers -- says Alexander's release is a great step, but there is still much more work to be done.

"We're thrilled. We think this was the right thing to do and we applaud it," said Kerry McLean, who is on the National Executive Board of the National Lawyers Guild.

The group Free Marissa Now is happy to have them, along with the outpouring of national attention and support.

"It's one thing to fight for something, and then nobody supports you. It's another when you're fighting for something and everybody's got your back," said Anthony Heard of Free Marissa Now.

"The anti-sexism committee of the guild became very interested in Marissa's case some time ago," McLean said. "To be quite frank, we were shocked that a survivor of domestic violence was being treated so harshly."

McLean visited with Free Marisa Now last month to give legal advice, and now that Alexander is out of jail, she's back.  She spoke with Alexander's mother about her daughter's homecoming in time for Thanksgiving.

"After being behind bars for what actually (is) three years now, Marissa (is) just actually taking some time to process being free again and reconnecting with her children," McLean said.

Alexander's case has gained national attention. Heard says it only strengthens the group's exposure and resolve.

"To have her here and have the nation -- Atlanta, Chicago -- have them on the bandwagon, I guess with us or fighting with us,  means that were not fighting alone... means that were not wrong," Heard said.

The group and the National Lawyers Guild still believe the charges against Alexander should be dropped altogether -- something the state attorney's office has refused to consider.

"We hope that this trial doesn't even happen," McLean said. "We do sort of have our eyes on that, so we'll see what happens."

Supporters are planning a welcome home party for Alexander on Dec. 16. They are not sure if Alexander will be able to attend, but they want her to know there are people supporting her defense.

Free Marissa Now already has 400 members, and the group continues to write letters and send emails to state and local leaders, hoping to build pressure to have the battery charges dropped.

If the case goes to trial, they plan to fill the courtroom to show support for Alexander.

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