Alabama woman charged in fetal death, her shooter goes free
An Alabama district attorney's office hasn't decided whether to prosecute a woman indicted for manslaughter after she lost her fetus when she was shot during a fight.
Marshae Jones was five months pregnant when 23-year-old Ebony Jemison shot her in the stomach during a December altercation over the fetus's father, authorities said.
Jemison was initially charged with manslaughter, but a Jefferson County grand jury declined to indict her after police said an investigation determined Jones started the fight, and Jemison ultimately fired in self-defense.
Jones, 28, was indicted by that same grand jury Wednesday.
The indictment stated Jones did "intentionally cause the death" of "Unborn Baby Jones by initiating a fight knowing she was five months pregnant."
However, the office of District Attorney Lynneice O. Washington said there has been no decision on whether to pursue the case against Jones.
A Birmingham law firm, White Arnold & Dowd, said in a statement Friday that it is representing Jones.
"Marshae has been subjected to extraordinary violence, trauma and loss over the past year," the statement reads, adding that Jones recently lost her home to a fire and lost her job.
"Now, for reasons that defy imagination, she faces an unprecedented legal action that subjects this victim of violence to further distress and harm."
The law firm also noted that Jones has no criminal history and is raising a young daughter.
Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid had called the fetus "the only true victim," having been brought unnecessarily into a fight and "dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm."
Advocates for women's rights expressed outrage over Jones' arrest.
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said women across the country have been prosecuted for manslaughter or murder for having an abortion or experiencing a miscarriage.
She said Alabama currently leads the nation in charging women for crimes related to their pregnancies.
She said hundreds have been prosecuted for running afoul of the state's "chemical endangerment of a child" statute by exposing their embryo or fetus to controlled substances.
But this is the first time she's heard of a pregnant woman being charged after getting shot.
"This takes us to a new level of inhumanity and illegality towards pregnant women," Paltrow said.
"I can't think of any other circumstance where a person who themselves is a victim of a crime is treated as the criminal."
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