Police initially charged the shooter with the murder of the unborn baby. But when the charge was unproven, they decided to charge the mother with manslaughter.
Marshae Jones was five months pregnant when she was repeatedly shot in the city of Pleasant Grove in Jefferson County, Alabama, on December 4 last year.
When emergency services arrived on the scene, she had been taken to a convenience store in nearby Fairfield, about 10 minutes away. She was then taken to UAB University Hospital in Birmingham. Doctors were unable to save the unborn fetus but Jones, who was shot five times, survived.
The charge against Jemison was dismissed after a grand jury failed to indict her on Wednesday (local time), AL.com reported.
Ebony Jemison was initially charged with the murder of Jones’ unborn baby before downgraded manslaughter charges were dropped.
Police then arrested 27-year-old Jones and she was indicted by a grand jury on the charge of manslaughter of her unborn baby. She was taken into custody before raising $50,000 bond to walk free. She faces a maximum of 20 years in jail.
Though Jones did not fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities will argue that she initiated the dispute that led to the shooting, AL.com reported.
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“Let’s not lose sight that the unborn baby is the victim here,” Pleasant Grove Police Department Lieutenant Danny Reid told AOL.com. “She had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection.”
“All indications and all evidence point to the fact of the victim or the other of the unborn child was the aggressor, she is no longer listed as the victim, the only victim we have here is that unborn child,” Reid told WIAT.
Reid told AL.com in 2018 that “the mother’s involvement and culpability will be presented to a grand jury” as well.
“When a five-month pregnant woman initiates a fight and attacks another person, I believe some responsibility lies with her as to any injury to her unborn child,” he said. “That child is dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations.”
Jones’ grandmother Patrice Jones criticised the arrest and charges.
“It’s not fair,’’ Patrice Jones said. “Marshae didn’t have a gun. How did they turn it around on her?”
According to authorities, Jones was the aggressor in the dispute that day and continued to fight even after Jemison had got into her vehicle to try to get away. It was then that Jemison got hold of a gun and fired a shot at Jones to stop the attack.
Patrice Jones, however, denied that account.
“She (Jemison) had three people in the car with her. When Marshae saw the gun, she walked away and that’s when she was shot,” she said. “He (Reid) said Marshae threw the first lick.”
She said someone has cell phone video of the entire incident. “They were fighting fair,’’ she said, until Jemison pulled a gun. “She could have killed both of them.’’
The Yellowhammer Fund, which helps women find abortion services, issued a statement calling for the charges against Jones to be dropped.
“The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act,” Yellowhammer Fund Executive Director Amanda Reyes said in the statement.
“Today, Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun. Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care.”
Reyes added that Jones should be “released from jail on bond” and vowed to assist her with legal representation so that “she gets justice for the multiple attacks that she has endured.”
Last month Alabama Governor Kay Ivey banned abortion in almost every circumstance, including rape and incest. Alabama is one of 38 states with fetal homicide laws that recognise a fetus as a potential victim. It is also a “stand-your-ground” state, which means people are allowed to use physical force to defend themselves if their reason is considered “justifiable”, The Guardian reported.
Today, Marshae Jones was indicted for homicide when someone shot her in the stomach while she was pregnant, ending her pregnancy. They said she "started it." The shooter went free. This what 2019 looks like for a pregnant woman of color without means in a red state. This is now.
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) 27 de junio de 2019