Another Alabama story is making news around the globe, mainly because it makes you do a double take.
A pregnant woman was shot in the stomach by another woman and is now facing charges in the death of her unborn child. Wait a minute, what?
It happened in Pleasant Grove, near Birmingham. Without making light of anything here, the description of what happened sounds like it came out of an episode of Jerry Springer -- two women fighting about a man, the father of the unborn child. Police say the pregnant women, identified as 27-year-old Marshae Jones, instigated and then continued to press a fight outside a Dollar General store. They say the shooter had gotten in her car and tried to drive away before finally shooting Jones in the stomach.
A grand jury returned an indictment against the pregnant woman for manslaughter, using the logic that she willingly put her unborn child in harm's way. The shooter, identified as 23-year-old Ebony Jemison, was not indicted and will suffer no consequences for shooting Jones and killing her unborn baby.
What just happened here?
The shooter is free and the victim is facing manslaughter felony charges. In all the stories I've read about this incident, I find no mention of the shooter claiming self-defense. I find no mention of Jones being armed herself. Jemison says Jones pulled her hair, but that appears to be the worst of the violence before a shot was fired. Maybe there's something that only the grand jury knows, but on the surface, this seems crazy.
A Pleasant Grove police spokesperson explains it to al.com: "Let’s not lose sight that the unborn baby is the victim here. She had no choice in being brought unnecessarily into a fight where she was relying on her mother for protection."
Marshae Jones should never have let her emotions get the better of her like that, because that's when we see the worst in people. But manslaughter? The shooter in this case spoke to Buzzfeed News and actually suggested child endangerment or assault charges, not manslaughter. Jemison also tells Buzzfeed she didn't mean to actually shoot anyone and just wanted to get everyone to leave. Jemison said she had no relationship with the father of Jones' unborn baby, except to ask questions at work.
For what it's worth, Jefferson County prosecutors might decide not to pursue those manslaughter charges. There have also been some attempts to tie this case to the state's new restrictive abortion law, a claim prosecutors reject. In a statement released late Thursday, Chief Assistant DA Valerie Hicks Powe said: "Unfortunately, some groups have attempted to tie this case to the anti-abortion law... This case predates the passage of the legislation and we must point out the new law played no role in the consideration of the grand jury.”
This seems to be a bad situation made worse with jealousy, which I'd say is the most harmful emotion. Likely because of that jealousy, the grand jury decided that the person who instigated the fight and not the shooter should face manslaughter charges. Still, I can't help but think that this whole case is a mess. I could see some sort of reckless endangerment charges... for both women. Marshae Jones endangered herself, her unborn child, and others by starting the fight. Ebony Jemison fired off a gun, not because she was in danger, but because she wanted everyone to leave. It's clear to me that both exhibited reckless behavior.