BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A previously 5-months pregnant Alabama woman whose fetus died after she was shot in the stomach during a fight was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday, while the woman accused of shooting her has been freed.
Marshae Jones, 28, of Birmingham, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury and was taken into custody Wednesday, AL.com reported. Ebony Jemison, 23, shot Jones around noon on Dec. 4, 2018 in Pleasant Grove during an altercation over the baby's father.
Initially, Jemison was charged with manslaughter, but the same grand jury declined to indict her after police said an investigation determined that Jones had started the fight and Jemison ultimately fired the fatal shot 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, according to the paper. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”
Reid said the fetus “had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection.”
Jones will be transferred to the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, where she will be held on $50,000 bond.
The Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney's Office did not immediately respond for comment.
Advocates for women's rights expressed outrage over Jones' indictment.
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said women across the country have been prosecuted for manslaughter or murder for having an abortion or experiencing a miscarriage.
She said Alabama currently leads the nation in charging women for crimes related to their pregnancies. She said hundreds have been prosecuted for running afoul of the state's "chemical endangerment of a child" statute by exposing their embryo or fetus to controlled substances.
But this is the first time she's heard of a pregnant woman being charged after getting shot.
"This takes us to a new level of inhumanity and illegality towards pregnant women," Paltrow said. "I can't think of any other circumstance where a person who themselves is a victim of a crime is treated as the criminal.“
Jones' arrest also drew criticism from the Yellowhammer Fund, which raises money to help women have access to abortions.
"The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act," said Amanda Reyes, the group's director.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.