INDIANAPOLIS – In May 2017, Jennifer Lee’s life changed forever.
A stray bullet struck and killed her 18-year-old daughter Brittany, who was 11 weeks pregnant at the time.
The man accused in the killing was charged with murder for her death—but only aggravated battery for the baby Brittany was carrying.
“Her last words to them were, ‘Don’t let me lose my baby,’” Lee recalled. “I felt like I had to fight for the baby. It mattered to me. It mattered to my daughter.”
Lee started fighting. She sent hundreds of letters to House members and senators—even the president of the United States.
“They were going to hear me… whether they did or not… I wasn’t going to stop,” she said.
A bill passed in Indiana in 2018 made it law that anyone who murders an expectant mother and her unborn child can be charged with murder, manslaughter or feticide.
“This is the only justice I will get,” Lee said. “My daughter and her baby gave up their lives for many babies to be accounted for, and if that’s what I can get, that’s what I’ll accept.”
Earlier this year, that law was called on for the first time—when police said a teenager shot and killed his family, including an unborn child.
“I can’t imagine the feeling of this… I can’t imagine this family,” Lee said.
Jennifer’s friends are in awe of her dedicated fight for justice.
“The way she gives back and has a heart for everyone, and making her daughter still be alive [is inspiring],” said Lea Dunbar, a family friend.
“She is remarkable. Everything she’s been through and how strong she is—it’s incredible everything she does for everybody.”
Lee has started a maternity home for young mothers called “Hope for Peanut.” They haven’t housed any expectant mothers so far because of the pandemic, but Lee is starting a pantry next month to help young mothers in need of food assistance.
It will be called “Mommy and Peanut’s Pantry.”
“This is how I keep Brittany alive. This is how I keep her and her baby alive.”