Charges dropped against U.S. woman who lost fetus when shot in stomach
Grand jury last week concluded Marshae Jones intentionally caused the death
An Alabama district attorney said Wednesday she is dropping the charges against a woman who was indicted for manslaughter after she lost her fetus when she was shot during a fight.
Marshae Jones was arrested on June 26 after a grand jury concluded she intentionally caused the death of her fetus by initiating a fight, knowing she was pregnant.
Jones was five months pregnant when 23-year-old Ebony Jemison shot her in the stomach during a December argument 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-defence. Jones, 28, was indicted by the same grand jury and arrested.
But Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice O. Washington said Wednesday she would not pursue the case.
"After reviewing the facts of this case and the applicable state law, I have determined that it is not in the best interest of justice to pursue prosecution of Ms. Jones," Washington said, flanked by her chief assistant and local church leaders. "There are no winners, only losers, in this sad ordeal." She did not take questions from reporters.
Lawyers representing Jones said they were pleased with Washington's decision and urged Jones's supporters to direct their energy to "ensuring that what happened to Marshae won't ever happen again."
'Flawed and twisted rationale'
Jones's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss Monday morning, arguing that in issuing the charges, the state used a "flawed and twisted rationale" that "ignores the law and ignores reason."
The idea that Jones intentionally caused the death of her fetus by initiating the fight is a "tortured," "irrational" theory which "defies the most basic logic and analysis," the filing asserted.
Alabama is one of dozens of states that have fetal homicide laws allowing criminal charges when fetuses are killed in violent acts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Jones's arrest sparked outrage across the country, with advocates for women's rights calling it another attempt to charge women for crimes related to their pregnancies. Legal scholars said the arrest raised questions about what other scenarios — such as driving a car or swimming in a pool — could constitute putting a fetus in danger.
It comes after the state passed the nation's most hardline anti-abortion legislation. It would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison for the provider. The law makes no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. The only exception would be when the woman's health is at serious risk.