Bishop Rudolph W. McKissick Jr., and Others in Florida Are Making Prosecutor Angela Corey Feel the Heat After Outcome of Zimmerman and Dunn Trials

Bishop Rudolph W. McKissick Jr., and Others in Florida Are Making Prosecutor Angela Corey Feel the Heat After Outcome of Zimmerman and Dunn Trials

In the aftermath of the verdict of Michael Dunn in the death of Jordan Davis in Florida, there is one figure that is coming under increased criticism from African-American elected officials and others: Angela B. Corey.

Corey, the State Attorney in Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court, has prosecuted a far higher number of young African-American men than her predecessor and has put a disproportionate number of Black men on death row, her critics charge.

In addition, she has been criticized for her office’s decision to charge Marissa Alexander, a Black woman who fired a warning shot to deter an abusive husband, and have her sentenced to 60 years in prison. Corey was the prosecutor who decided to charge George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the death ofTrayvon Martin, when many officials suggest that a jury might have convicted him of a lesser charge rather than finding him not guilty.

“There is a major problem with how she applies the law, particularly when it comes to people of color, who seem to be disproportionately affected by these decisions,” said Alan B. Williams, a member of the state’s House of Representatives and chairman of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, in an interview with BET.com.

“Of course, she is to be commended for bringing the George Zimmerman case to trial,” Williams said. “But there are still inadequacies that exist in her application of not only Stand Your Ground, but also with the large number of young African-American men who are being charged by the state in her jurisdiction. It’s not just a concern in her district, but also around the state and around the country.”

The American Civil Liberties Union indicated that Corey’s office has sent 21 people to death row in Florida in the last five years, a figure that exceeds any other prosecutor in the state. Critics of the state attorney point to the fact that her jurisdiction, which includes Duval, Nassau and Clay counties  including Jacksonville accounts for less than 7 percent of the state’s population. About 66 percent of those sent to death row are African-American in a state where Black citizens account for 16 percent of the population.

Many African-American officials and community leaders have criticized Corey for going for seeking a first-degree murder conviction  a charge with high standards  in the case of Michael Dunn in the killing of teenage, unarmed Jordan Davis after an argument over loud music. Dunn was convicted of three counts of attempted murder, but the judge ruled a mistrial on the murder charges after a deadlocked jury failed to convict him. The jury might have reached a guilty verdict on a lesser charge, they contend.

“She charges almost knowing that she can’t win,” said Bishop Rudolph W. McKissick Jr., the pastor of the Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Jacksonville, in an interview with BET.com. 

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say that she rigged it, but she has a track record with African-Americans that opens the window of that kind of speculative discussion,” said McKissick, who is also a member of the board of the National Action Network.

“I believe most people think she is overzealous and that she has not been very fair to African-Americans,” he added. “When you look at the Marissa Alexander case, for example, she comes off as somebody who will use the law, or manipulate the technicalities of the law, for her own self-aggrandizement. It’s almost like she’s trying to teach Black folk a lesson.”

The Marissa Alexander case has ignited bitter passions among many African-Americans in Florida and beyond.

In May 2012, Corey prosecuted the 31-year-old mother for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and obtained a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, which generated controversy in the midst of the Trayvon Martin case. Alexander argued that she fired a warning shot from a gun she was licensed to carry to defend herself from a life-threatening beating from her self-admitted abusive estranged husband, Rico Gray.

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Source: BET | Jonathan P. Hicks

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