- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Pastors are calling for the Jacksonville State Attorney’s Office to offer the original plea deal to a woman who received a lengthy sentence for firing what she claims was a warning shot during a fight with her estranged husband.

Marissa Alexander, 33, rejected a deal that would have sent her to three years in prison. She was later convicted and sentenced to 20 years on charges that she fired a gun at Rico Gray and two of his children. She called it a warning shot.

The conviction was overturned and she’s scheduled for a July 28 trial.

“Given that she’s been granted a chance at a retrial, she should have the chance at a redo,” the Rev. Mark Griffin of Wayman Ministries told The Florida Times-Union (http://bit.ly/1fdYTSs ).

Defense attorney Bruce Zimet has previously said that his client would listen to all offers. She could face 60 years in prison if convicted again.

If she she’s offered the original plea deal, and accepts it, she could be free within months. She was in jail and prison from February 2011 to November 2013. She was released on bond last year after an appeals court ruled the judge improperly instructed jurors on how it should consider her self-defense claims.

Instead of having another high-profile trial that causes a potential media frenzy, similar to the Dunn and Zimmerman trials, the group of ministers suggested it’s time to move forward.

“This is a chance to begin the healing and benefit the community,” said the Rev. Marvin McQueen II of First Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville Beach. Instead, he says the city needs to focus on its growing violent crime problem.

Griffin said the call for a plea deal shouldn’t be interpreted as support for Alexander or a criticism of the state attorney. Rather, he said, it’s a call for everyone to do what is right.

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Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com