Marshae Jones, a 27-year-old Birmingham woman, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on a manslaughter charge. She was taken into custody on Wednesday.
Though Jones didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire. Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her.
The shooting happened about noon on Dec. 4, 2018, outside Dollar General on Park Road. Officers were dispatched to the scene on a report of someone shot but arrived to find the shooting victim – later identified as Jones - had been picked up and driven to Fairfield. Police and paramedics then found the Jones at a Fairfield convenience store.
Jones was taken from Fairfield to UAB Hospital. She was five months pregnant and was shot in the stomach. The unborn baby did not survive the shooting.
“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ 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.”
Reid said the fight stemmed over the unborn baby’s father. The investigation showed, he said, that it was Jones who initiated and pressed the fight, which ultimately caused Jemison to defend herself and unfortunately caused the death of the baby.
"Let’s not lose sight that the unborn baby is the victim here,’’ Reid said. “She had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection."
The 5-month fetus was "dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations,” Reid added.
Jones will be transferred to the Jefferson County Jail where she will be held on $50,000 bond.
The indictment and prosecution is being handled by the Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney’s Office. Lynneice Washington, the district attorney in that office, could not be reached for comment. Jefferson County is divided into two divisions and the Bessemer Cutoff covers the western portion of the county, including Pleasant Grove.
News of Jones’ grand jury indictment outraged many, including women’s rights activists.
The Yellowhammer Fund, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds which helps women access abortion services, released a statement Wednesday night. The group gained national attention after the passage of Alabama’s new abortion law.
“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,’’ 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 said.
“We commit ourselves to making sure that Marshae is released from jail on bond, assisting with her legal representation, and working to ensure that she gets justice for the multiple attacks that she has endured,’’ Reyes said.
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