Alabama district attorney may not pursue charges against woman whose unborn baby was shot

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    Alabama district attorney may not pursue charges against woman whose unborn baby was shotAlabama district attorney may not pursue charges against woman whose unborn baby was shot
    Marshae Jones was indicted this week on manslaughter charges after her unborn child was shot and killed.
    Marshae Jones, 27, was arrested and indicted on the count of manslaughter for failing to remove herself from harm's way in a shooting last year that caused her to lose her pregnancy.Marshae Jones, 27, was arrested and indicted on the count of manslaughter for failing to remove herself from harm's way in a shooting last year that caused her to lose her pregnancy.
    Marshae Jones, 27, was arrested and indicted on the count of manslaughter for failing to remove herself from harm’s way in a shooting last year that caused her to lose her pregnancy.

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Prosecutors may not pursue manslaughter charges after an Alabama woman was arrested&nbsp;in the death of her unborn child, who was fatally shot during a fight.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”27″>MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Prosecutors may not pursue manslaughter charges after an Alabama woman was arrested in the death of her unborn child, who was fatally shot during a fight. 

    Marshae Jones was arrested Wednesday after a Jefferson County grand jury indicted her on manslaughter charges, igniting a firestorm across the country. But District Attorney Lynneice Washington’s office urged caution in a late Thursday news release, saying the office has not yet decided whether to pursue the manslaughter charge, reduce it or drop the case altogether.

    “Foremost, it should be stated that this is a truly tragic case, resulting in the death of an unborn child,” the release stated. “We feel sympathy for the families involved, including Ms. Jones, who lost her unborn child. The fact that this tragedy was 100% avoidable makes this case even more disheartening.”

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Jones' case is odd and, some say, unprecedented. According to al.com, 23-year-old Ebony Jemison was initially charged in December after a shooting in Pleasant Grove led to the death of the unborn child.” data-reactid=”30″>Jones’ case is odd and, some say, unprecedented. According to al.com, 23-year-old Ebony Jemison was initially charged in December after a shooting in Pleasant Grove led to the death of the unborn child.

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Alabama case: Woman charged in fetus’ death after she was shot and lost her pregnancy” data-reactid=”31″>Alabama case: Woman charged in fetus’ death after she was shot and lost her pregnancy

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Previously: Alabama abortion ban signed into law” data-reactid=”32″>Previously: Alabama abortion ban signed into law

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But investigating authorities alleged the pregnant Jones, not Jemison, initiated and instigated the attack. Jemison told BuzzFeed News that she fired a gun&nbsp;as a "warning shot" after Jones and a group of friends attacked her over a relationship issue.” data-reactid=”33″>But investigating authorities alleged the pregnant Jones, not Jemison, initiated and instigated the attack. Jemison told BuzzFeed News that she fired a gun as a “warning shot” after Jones and a group of friends attacked her over a relationship issue.

    The grand jury declined to bring charges against Jemison, the DA’s office said, determining that she acted in self-defense. 

    The DA’s office has not yet returned a request for comment. Efforts to reach Jones and Jemison on Friday were unsuccessful. 

    But Jones’ charge appears to contradict a portion of Alabama’s Criminal Code. Though the code does include “fetal homicide” language, which defines an “unborn child in utero” as a human being, regardless of viability, the code also states that the prosecution of “any woman with respect to her unborn child” should not be permitted under criminal homicide charges like manslaughter.

    “It’s the plain language of the statute,” said Andrew Skier, a Montgomery-based criminal defense attorney.

    Skier has no ties to Jones’ case, He said that when he first saw the story, he believed the manslaughter charge was “quite a stretch” under Alabama law. Manslaughter, recklessly engaging in conduct you know includes a risk, is a tough thing to prove from the outset.

    But after reviewing the state code, Skier said he would file a motion to dismiss if he were involved in the case, “based on that statute” alone.

    “That is 100% a bar to this prosecution,” Skier said. “It seems to me that whoever indicted this case didn’t read this statute.”

    Abortion and reproductive rights groups last week quickly raised Jones’ case as a cause célèbre, marking it as an example of prosecutorial overreach on the heels of a near-total abortion ban in Alabama. The new law, which could go into effect in November but is expected to remain tied up in federal lawsuits, would criminalize anyone who performs an abortion in the state. Though the law does not criminalize women who receive abortion care, opponents of the legislation argued it would create a slippery slope for reproductive rights and pregnancy loss.