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Judge OKs state’s motion to dismiss fetal manslaughter case

U.S. & World

FILE – This file photo provided by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office shows Marshae Jones. An An Alabama district attorney said Wednesday, July 3, 2019, she is dropping the manslaughter charge against Jones, a woman who lost her fetus when she was shot during a fight. (Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

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BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) — The manslaughter charge against an Alabama woman who lost her fetus when she was shot during a fight was dropped Saturday.

Circuit Judge David Carpenter granted the state’s motion to dismiss the case against Marshae Jones, 28.

Jones was five months pregnant when 23-year-old Ebony Jemison shot her in the stomach during a December argument over the fetus’ father, authorities said.

Jemison was initially charged with manslaughter, but a Jefferson County grand jury declined to indict her after police said an investigation determined Jones started the fight, and Jemison ultimately fired in self-defense. Jones was indicted by the same grand jury and arrested, sparking outrage around the nation.

Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice O. Washington said earlier in the week that she would not prosecute Jones.

“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,” Washington said, flanked by her chief assistant and local church leaders. “There are no winners, only losers, in this sad ordeal.”

Alabama is one of several states with laws allowing criminal charges when fetuses are killed in violent acts.

Jones’ arrest stirred criticism across the country, with advocates for women’s rights calling it another attempt to charge women for crimes related to their pregnancies. Legal scholars said the arrest raised questions about what other scenarios — such as driving a car or swimming in a pool — could constitute putting a fetus in danger.

The case arose after Alabama passed the nation’s most hardline anti-abortion legislation. That new law makes performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison for the provider. The law makes no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk.

Though scheduled to take effect in November, Alabama’s near-total abortion ban is facing a challenge in court.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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