Jasmin Hartin Arraigned For Manslaughter By Negligence
Tonight - at this hour, Jasmine Hartin - the daughter in law of Michael Ashcroft is in the San Pedro Magistrate's Court awaiting a decision on bail from San Pedro Magistrate Christina Perrera.
Hartin is presently in the courtroom with her attorney Godfrey Smith awaiting this decision - according to sources. In San Pedro the media is not allowed into the courtroom because of COVID regulations.
But Cherisse Hasall has been the ground in San Pedro since the early morning and here's her report of the day's activities:
More than three days of detention ended for Jasmin Hartin today. She was arraigned this afternoon in the San Pedro Magistrate's Court on a single charge of manslaughter by negligence. That charge means that the Director of Public Prosecutions decided that - based on the evidence - it was an accidental shooting that led to Superintendent Henry Jemmott's death.
The arraignment came at the end of a long day for the media. It all started bright and early this morning when the press corps gathered in front of the upstairs courtroom in the hopes of getting a glimpse of the accused.
But it seems that despite last week's protestations by the commissioner that Hartin would be dealt with just like any other offender, it was just the opposite today.
That's because the media was initially removed out of the building by law enforcement, made to sit on these back steps. And later removed from the compound altogether; the reason cited was COVID safety measures.
Indeed, the cops seemed to go to great lengths to protect her from the glare of the medals lenses, even shutting the police station and courtroom windows to keep our cameras from catching even a glimpse of the Canadian who's made San Pedro her home.
And just when it seemed like any hope of arraignment was dwindling Hartin's attorney Godfrey Smith emerged from a taxi and strode with purpose into the upstairs courtroom.
And up until 5:08 pm, that's where he and presumably his client remained: battling through an arraignment that was long in coming, and is also taking long to wrap up.
And, Cherisse remains on the spot in San Pedro tonight - and we'll have updates - if any - as the news progresses.
So, manslaughter by negligence is an eminently bailable offence and police don't usually object to bail. But, in this case they did - because Hartin is a Canadian, and, thus, a flight risk. The 32 year old is also the mother of two - the grandchildren of Michael Ashcroft.
COMPOL: No Evidence To Support Murder Charge For Hartin
So, today's arraignment comes after a weekend of a few notable developments. First, police briefly considered charging Hartin for cocaine possession on Saturday night, but it seems, after that, she started to cooperate with the cops and gave a statement where she said she shot Jemmoth accidentally.
Today in Belmopan, the Commissioner of Police discussed the WEEKEND developments - while staying away from what was disclosed in the statement - but made clear, there's no evidence to support a murder charge:
"Last week, you mentioned that Miss Jasmin Hartin wasn't cooperating with police. Has she given police any valuable information for this matter to move forward?"
"Yes, she provided a statement under caution."
"Sir, do police have a clear indication of what happened that night in terms of the sequence of events?"
"We cannot say we have a clear understanding of what happened because we were not there. The only two persons who could have given that to us is the deceased and Miss Hartin."
"Miss Hartin has given her version of what she said transpired, and so, it's a matter now for the DPP to decide how we proceed."
"Sir, so you're not at liberty to share what she said transpired?"
"No, I'm not going to go into the contents of her statement."
"The injury is not consistent with suicide, and the manner of death is homicide, which simply means the killing of a human being by another human being. That is homicide. The issue that will have to be determined then is whether it murder on manslaughter. Murder is murder is the intentional killing of human being by unlawful harm. And so, one of the things you have to prove for murder is that of intent. Manslaughter on the other had is where you actually killed someone, but you have some - you call it partial excuse or partial defense in law that reduce the murder to manslaughter."
"Would you be able to comment on the possibility of an accidental discharge of a pistol?"
"I'm not going to comment on that at this time. We are going to give Mr. Jemoth the best funeral we possibly can. While yes, we're under financial constraints, I do not know that this should impede us from giving him a funeral that he rightly deserved, having served this country at the level he did, and for the number of years. And so, the funeral will be held in Dangriga. It has been tentatively set for June 12th."
Breaking news at this hour is that bail has been denied for Jasmine Hartin. That just happened at San Pedro MAgistrate's Court.
More on that later. And while the police department prepares for the funeral of a beloved senior officer - many of his peers are expressing their displeasure with the charge. They say that a Glock 9 MILIMETRE pistol - like the one Jemmoth carried - has a trigger safety built into it - so an accidental discharge is almost impossible. There are, of course, other misgivings, naturally arising from that fact that one of Belize's super rich residents, A Canadian, has killed a career cop born in Dangriga. But, the fact is the DPP decided on manslaughter by negligence - which rarely carries a prison sentence and - even if there is a conviction - usually ends with a fine. It is far more likely to end in a fine if the accused takes a guilty plea - which sources suggest may be the legal strategy employed by Hartin's legal team. She took no plea today, since it is an indictable offence - but when the case does go to the Supreme Court in maybe a year from now.
"Jasmine Hartin: From The Marriott Alaia to the 'Hattieville Ramada'
And, to update on our top story, Jasmine Hartin has been denied bail and is going to be remanded to prison.
The Magistrate Christine Perrera deliberated and concluded that she has no jurisdiction, while also noting the prevalence of crime currently.
Police had objected to bail because she is a flight risk.
So, Michael Ashcroft's daughter in law and the mother of his grandchildren is expected to be taken from San Pedro to Belize City tomorrow for remand to prison. It would now be up to her attorneys to apply for Supreme Court bail. Manslaughter by negligence is a bailable offence.
Here is a brief interview with her attorney Godfrey Smith from a few moments ago:
Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Jasmine Hartin
"We are not going to give a statement today, but we are going to arrange to have a statement to tomorrow. We will aim for in the afternoon."
"Is there any way you could confirm anything today?"
Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Jasmine Hartin
"The charge is manslaughter by negligence, bail has been denied, we appeal to the supreme court as is normal. We will talk to the press tomorrow."
That was Cherisse Halsall just a few minutes ago with Godfrey Smith, Hartin's Attorney. More on this major, developing story as the news progresses.