Marshae Jones of Birmingham, Ala., was taken into custody on Wednesday after being indicted by a grand jury in the Bessemer division of Jefferson County on a manslaughter charge for the death of her unborn daughter. But Jones didn’t harm her child.
She was five months pregnant in December 2018 when she was shot in the stomach by Ebony Jemison, which caused her to lose her baby girl. Seemingly, the jury’s reasoning why Jones should be charged is — she started the fight.
According to AL.com, police initially charged Jemison, age 23, with manslaughter, but it was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her.
Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid said at the time of the shooting: “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby. The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby.”
The district attorney for Jefferson County’s Bessemer division, handling the indictment and prosecution, has not yet issued a statement.
Police said the shooting took place outside a Dollar General store during a fight over the unborn child’s father. ABC Birmingham reported in 2018 that Marshae Jones was in a vehicle when she was shot.
“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,’’ Amanda Reyes, the executive director of Alabama’s Yellowhammer Fund, which helps women in need access abortions, said in a statement.
On May 15, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the strictest abortion law in the country. If enacted, the law would permit abortions only if the mother’s life is at risk or if the fetus cannot survive, but abortions following rape or incest are outlawed. It’s scheduled to take effect November.
“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 said.
Jones has been released from Jefferson County Jail on a $50,000 bond.
Reyes said her organization would assist Jones with “her legal representation, and working to ensure that she gets justice for the multiple attacks that she has endured.”
Manslaughter, a Class B felony, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.