Nearly five years ago, Marissa Alexander fired a gun in the direction of her estranged husband.
“I was in awe at their dedication, their solidarity, their support,” Alexander said in a recent interview with the Florida Times-Union at her home. “The fact that they would dedicate their most precious resource, their time, to support me was heart-warming.”
Released from the Duval County jail on Jan. 27, the 34-year-old mother of three remains under house arrest for two years. She avoided the possibility of spending 60 years in prison by agreeing to cut a deal with prosecutors in November, which required her to plead guilty and become a felon.
The terms of Alexander's house arrest prohibit her from going anywhere other than work, school, church and necessary appointments such as doctor visits.
“It was incredibly difficult to take that plea,” Alexander said. “But I thought about my kids; it was mainly the children that made me decide to do it.”
She also cites her youngest child, 4-year-old Rihanna, as the reason for declining to speak about the fateful 2010 incident or publicly criticize Rico Gray, her estranged husband — and Rihanna's father — whom Alexander is in the process of divorcing.
As for her thoughts on State Attorney Angela Corey, the lawmaker who faced backlash for seeking a long prison sentence for Alexander as stipulated by Florida's mandatory-minimum sentencing laws, Alexander claims to have no personal animosity toward Corey or the trial's prosecutors.
“Angela Corey had a job to do, I respect that,” she said. “I try not to make it personal.”
So, what does someone like Alexander do after being inadvertently thrust into the national spotlight? Still coming to terms with her newfound fame, she has decided to go back to school once again to become a paralegal.
She realized her passion for law while helping her fellow inmates with legal and financial issues in prison and now aims to help young people in the juvenile justice system turn their lives around.
"I really found a purpose," said Alexander.
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(Photo: REUTERS/Bob Mack/The Florida Times-Union/Pool/Landov)