Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice Washington announced today that she is dropping a misdemeanor manslaughter charge against Marshae Jones, whose fetus was killed during a fight in December.
A grand jury indicted Jones on a manslaughter charge after hearing evidence that she had initiated a fight with another woman, although it was the other woman who shot Jones, which resulted in the death of the fetus.
In a press conference this morning, Washington read a statement in which she said she will not prosecute Jones on that charge, and no further legal action will be taken.
“This is truly a disturbing and heartbreaking case,” Washington said. “An unborn child was tragically lost, and families on both sides of this matter have suffered. Nothing, nothing, nothing we do today or in the future will change that reality.
“The issue before us is whether it’s appropriate to try to hold someone legally culpable for the actions that led to the death of the unborn child. There are no winners, only losers, in this sad ordeal.”
Washington, who was on vacation out of the country when news about the indictment initially broke last week, said that after reviewing the case and the law, she determined it was not “in the best interest of justice” to pursue prosecution of Jones.
She said her decision was not a criticism of the grand jury that decided to indict Jones. “The members of the grand jury took to heart that the life of an unborn child was violently ended and believed someone should be held accountable. But in the interest of all concerned, we are not prosecuting this case,” Washington said.
Jones lawyers, with White Arnold & Dowd, said they were pleased with Washington’s decision.
“This is the outcome we sought this week in our motion to dismiss. We are gratified the District Attorney evaluated the matter and chose not to proceed with a case that was neither reasonable nor just,” the lawyers said in a statement.
“The District Attorney’s decision will help Marshae continue to heal from this tragic event and work to rebuild her life in a positive and productive way. She moves forward with enormous gratitude for the support she and her family have received during this challenging time.”
The case drew national attention and outrage from women’s rights groups and legal advocates. More than 50,000 people signed an online petition to drop the charges.