Marshae Jones, the Alabama woman who was arrested and charged with manslaughter in the death of her fetus after she got shot during a fight, will not be prosecuted, the district attorney overseeing the case said Wednesday.
Jones’ arrest last week sparked national outcry from activists concerned about the rights of pregnant women in states like Alabama where a fetus, as AL.com explained, is regarded as a “person” under the law.
On Wednesday, District Attorney Lynneice Washington said she respected the findings of the grand jury in bringing the charge against Jones, but she was dropping the charge in the “interest of justice.”
“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 on the manslaughter charge for which she was indicted by the grand jury,’’ Washington said, according to AL.com. “Therefore, I am hereby dismissing this case, and no further legal action will be taken against Ms. Jones in this matter.”
“There are no winners, only losers, in this sad ordeal,” she said.
According to authorities, back in December, Jones, now 27, started a fight with a co-worker, 23-year-old Ebony Jemison, over the unborn baby’s father. Jones, who was five months pregnant, was apparently winning the fight when Jemison, according to police, pulled out a gun and shot Jones in the belly. Jones was taken to a hospital, where she lost the baby. According to AL.com, police said there were no other weapons involved in the altercation.
This spring, a Jefferson County (Ala.) grand jury declined to bring an indictment against Jemison, finding that she had shot Jones in self-defense. But the grand jurors handed up a charge of manslaughter against Jones, finding that by starting the fight, she had ultimately caused the death of her unborn child.
Last week’s arrest of Jones particularly drew condemnation, coming as it did just weeks after Alabama legislators virtually outlawed all abortions, including those resulting from rape and incest.
Just this week, as The Root reported, Jones’ attorneys filed a motion seeking dismissal of the charge against their client and calling the prosecution patently unfair:
High-profile Alabama defense attorney Mark White took up Jones’ case, the Montgomery Advertiser reports, and issued a statement on Monday.
“It is simply unconscionable to prosecute a shooting victim for losing her baby as a result of an unforseeable [sic] injury,” said White, of White, Arnold & Dowd, the firm representing Jones. “The charges against Marshae are based on a flawed and contorted theory of criminal liability that simply does not exist under the law.”
After the prosecutor announced her decision Wednesday, White, Arnold & Dowd issued a statement, the New York Times reports:
“We are gratified the district attorney evaluated the matter and chose not to proceed with a case that was neither reasonable nor just.”
It should be noted that many folks in the small town of Pleasant Grove, Ala., where the shooting took place, and throughout Alabama, thought the prosecution was just. Per the Times:
Despite the angry national reaction, many in Alabama and Pleasant Grove, a city of 10,000 people where the shooting occurred, defended the grand jury’s decision, saying that they agreed with the laws protecting the unborn and that women who endanger them should face legal consequences.
Reproductive rights activists in Alabama, however, cheered the decision, according to the Times, with at least one, Shante Wolf-Sisson, of wellness group BLK Pearl, stating:
“We could use a lot of hope right now.”