An Alabama woman who was charged in the death of her fetus after she was shot in the stomach during a dispute last year filed a motion on Monday demanding authorities dismiss the “unreasonable and unjust” charges.
Marshae Jones, 28, was indicted on a manslaughter charge Wednesday by a Jefferson County grand jury. The charges come six months after Jones was shot in the stomach while five months pregnant outside a Dollar General in Pleasant Grove during a Dec. 4, 2018, altercation with another woman, authorities said. The grand jury concluded Jones started the argument, which was over the unborn child’s father.
“While everyday Ms. Jones relives the most tragic event in her life, the loss of her baby, Marlaysia Jones, she is now being forced by the State to fight an unprecedented attack that threatens to leave her six-year-old daughter without her mother,” the motion filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court said, adding that she has no prior criminal history. “The Indictment is based on a novel legal theory not available or supported under Alabama law and completely unreasonable and unjust.”
Defense attorney Mark White argued that Wednesday’s indictment is based on an “irrational theory” that “ignores the law and ignores reason” by alleging Jones intentionally caused her fetus’ death by engaging in a fight with Ebony Jemison, the alleged shooter.
While Jemison, 23, was initially charged with manslaughter, those charges were dropped after the same grand jury concluded she was acting out of “self defense.”
At the time of the shooting, police argued that Jones “initiated and continued the fight,” and should take responsibility for putting her fetus in a dangerous situation. The motion argues it “defies reason and logic” to believe Jones should have known that Jemison “would use deadly physical force against her and thereby cause the death of her unborn child.”
Prosecutors argued Jones “intentionally caused the death of her unborn child by initiating a fight with Ms. Jemison in the heat of passion knowing that Ms. Jemison would shoot her in her stomach with a firearm and kill Ms. Jones’ unborn child,” the motion states.
“This is an irrational theory which defies even the most basic logic and analysis,” Jones’ lawyers said.
White also argues that the case should be dismissed because state law “does not permit the prosecution of a woman for manslaughter relating to the death of her unborn child.” The indictment “improperly expands on the concept ...to create a new crime,” the motion alleges.
The case is the first to be tried under a constitutional amendment that was passed in November giving fetuses full legal rights and protections.
“The unfortunate death of Ms. Jones’ unborn child was not the natural and probable result of Ms. Jones initiating a fight, assuming that is what happened in this instance; it was the natural and probable consequence of Ms. Jemison shooting the pregnant Ms. Jones in the abdomen,” the motion states.
Despite the new state law, Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynniece Washington said last week that the case is a “tragedy” that deserves another look.
Jones, who was released from jail after posting $50,000 bond late last week, was not available for comment Monday, her lawyer said.