Marshae Jones — the Alabama woman who was charged with manslaughter after another woman shot her, causing Jones to lose her 5-month-old fetus — will not be prosecuted, officials announced on Wednesday.
“The issue before us is whether it’s appropriate to try to hold someone legally culpable for the actions that led to the death of the unborn child,’’ Jefferson County District Attorney Lynneice Washington said at a press conference. “There are no winners, only losers, in this sad ordeal.”
She added: "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. Therefore, I am hereby dismissing this case, and no further legal action will be taken against Ms. Jones in this matter.”
Jones was indicted in April and arrested last month. According to authorities, she had a physical altercation with 23-year-old Ebony Jemison outside of a retail store in Pleasant Grove, AL. Jemison shot Jones, which led her to lose her pregnancy. The case against Jemison was dropped after the grand jury failed to indict her, arguing that she had shot Jones in self-defense and it was Jones who should be held responsible for the loss of the fetus.
Jones' indictment sparked outrage among reproductive rights advocates, particularly because Alabama recently passed a law criminalizing abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The ensuing legal battle became a central part of the discussion around the fetal “personhood” movement — which seeks to define fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses as people with equal (or more) protections under the law — and how far it is willing to go, regardless of the impact on pregnant people's lives.
"No one deserves to be punished for losing a pregnancy," Nia Martin-Robinson, director of Black leadership and engagement of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "We must ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Prosecuting someone for being the victim of a violent crime is not only alarming — it signals an intent to target and criminalize Black pregnant women."
In a statement, Jones' attorneys said: "We are gratified the District Attorney evaluated the matter and chose not to proceed with a case that was neither reasonable nor just. The District Attorney’s decision will help Marshae continue to heal from this tragic event and work to rebuild her life in a positive and productive way. She moves forward with enormous gratitude for the support she and her family have received during this challenging time."
Jones has a 6-year-old daughter and reportedly recently also lost her job and her house, which burned down. “If you look at the five top stress factors that humans can experience, she may be the only person we’ve encountered that got all five simultaneously,” her attorney Mark White told The New York Times.