Attorneys representing an Alabama woman who was indicted for manslaughter after she suffered a gunshot wound that caused the loss of her fetus filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charges against her on Monday, arguing that the charges are “completely unreasonable and unjust.”
A grand jury indicted Marshae Jones, 27, on one count of felony manslaughter in May, deciding the expectant mother “intentionally caused the death” of her unborn child by “initiating” a fight in December 2018.
Jones was five months pregnant when local law enforcement officials say she initiated a fight with a woman named Ebony Jemison. During the altercation, Jemison shot Jones, resulting in the loss of Jones’ fetus. Jones was allegedly the aggressor in the fight between the two and, according to authorities, continued to instigate a confrontation even after Jemison had gotten into her car to avoid the dispute. It was only after attempting to leave the situation that Jemison got a gun and shot Jones, police said.
Lawyers for Jones filed the motion Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, the Associated Press reported.
“Using flawed and twisted rationale, the State of Alabama has charged a new theory of criminal liability that does not lawfully exist,” Jones’s lawyers wrote. “The State charges Ms. Jones with intending to cause the death of her unborn child by allegedly ‘initiating a fight.’ The State’s theory ignores the law and ignores reason.”
In a joint statement deriding Jones’ indictment, Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood Southeast said that the case was representative of Alabama’s perpetual criminalization of women of color.
“As a Black woman, despite being physically harmed and losing her pregnancy, the state does not recognize Marshae as a victim – only her fetus,” the statement says. “With Alabama’s recent abortion ban, we will continue to see people of color being charged for their reproductive decisions and outcomes.”
Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynniece Washington, the first black woman to serve as a district attorney in Alabama state history, spoke out on the case for the first time on Saturday.
“Let me tell each and every one of you, this has been a tragedy. A child… a child, a helpless child is now dead. Was it avoidable? Absolutely. One hundred percent. However, that young lady has to live for the rest of her life thinking about her choices and decisions,” Washington said.
“As district attorney, I have the discretion and power to do what I please. “For those of you who called my office, and disrupted, cursed, disrespected, because I was not present — I was not in the state, shame, shame on you,” Washington continued. “But I took an oath to serve. I am a black woman in black skin. So, don’t tell me how I don’t appreciate the sensitivity of a woman and the rights of women.”
A hearing on the motion to dismiss the charge has been scheduled for July 9.
[image via Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office]