Photo Credits: Medical Xpress
Last year in a Pleasant Grove, Alabama shooting, one woman was shot in her stomach. Marshae Jones was five months pregnant at the time and the fetus didn’t make it. Jones was indicted on manslaughter charges Wednesday in the loss of her pregnancy, even though, police say, another woman pulled the trigger.
The fight, which police said was over the fetus’s father, led 23-year-old Ebony Jemison to shoot Jones in the stomach. Jemison was charged with manslaughter, but a grand jury failed to indict her, and the charge was dismissed, according to AL.com. At the time, police alleged that Jones started the argument and that Jemison shot Jones in self-defense.
“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.”
“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.
As Ebony Jemison’s mother told the Washington Post, Jones worked at the same company as Ebony Jemison and the fetus’s father, where tension developed between the two women. Things boiled over on the afternoon of Dec. 4, when she says Jones, who was driving with friends at the time, spotted Ebony and leaped out of the vehicle to attack her. Jones’ friends left the car soon afterward and began to move toward the scuffle, she claimed.
“Ebony was afraid for her life and reached in her purse for the gun,” Earka Jemison said, adding her daughter had a license to carry. “She tried to fire a warning shot to get away from her.” But the shot — which Earka says was aimed at the ground — ricocheted into Jones instead, the mother said.
Alabama’s law defines "person," for the purpose of criminal homicide or assaults, to include an unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability and specifies that nothing in the act shall make it a crime to perform or obtain an abortion that is otherwise legal. It places Alabama among 38 countries with laws that classify fetuses as victims in homicide or assault.
“No one expects to be shot or wants to be. To charge this person is astonishing to me,” Richard Jaffe, a criminal defense attorney in Birmingham, said. “She is probably going through enough grief as it is.”
Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said that Alabama has indicted Ms. Jones, claiming it is a crime for a woman to be unable to protect her own life and health.