Posted: Wednesday, June 2, 2021. 9:49 am CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Wellington C. Ramos ( Former Criminal Investigation Branch Police Officer and N.C.O. i/c Criminal Investigation Orange Walk District )
Under Belize’s Criminal Code and most countries’ laws, when a person kills another person the first thing the Police Officer must determine is if the killing was intentional or accidental. Based on what is being reported in the news, it seems as if this was intentional killing and not accidental.
For the Police Department to decide what charge or charges they should give the suspect, they should have conducted a thorough investigation to accumulate; circumstantial evidence, direct evidence, ballistic, blood, clothing, hotel records, fingerprint, telephone conversations and gather witnesses who were with these two individuals before and after the incident.
Instead, based on what I have read in the news, the Police Department decided to agree with a legally constructed statement given to them by the accused, that the gun went off accidentally and shot Superintendent Henry Jemmott in his head behind his ear. With that type of statement, one would wonder if the gun had a safety clip and how did the gun go off with the safety clip locked. This is what led to the Manslaughter By Negligence charge instead of the charge of Murder. If the accused did not give a Sworn Statement to the Police after she was arrested and no other evidence is accumulated, then it will be her word that we will all have to go with, in court. In my opinion, the Police Department would not have charged her for Manslaughter By Negligence, if they did not conclude that the bullet that killed the Police Officer, came from the Police Officer’s service weapon.
The Police Department had the option to charge her for Murder, once they confirmed that the bullet that killed the officer came from his service revolver. If that was done the Burden of Proof would have been left to her and her Defense Attorneys to prove, that she did not intend to kill the Police Officer. That would have been left up to the Jury to accept her explanation of what happened or reject it. From Murder, a charge can be reduced to Manslaughter while the investigation is continuing or during the trial. This charge is second to Murder and different from Manslaughter By Negligence.
The difference between the two is that with Manslaughter, it is intentional killing with some mitigating circumstances and it carries more time in prison if a person is found guilty of this crime. Manslaughter By Negligence is not intentional but a death that occurred due to the accused person’s negligence or recklessness. This charge gives the accused a better opportunity to be found not guilty of the crime of murder even if the killing was intentional.
I ask that when we look at this case and all cases, we stick to the legal principle, that a person is innocent until he or she is found guilty by a court of law for the crime they are charged with. The Belize Police Force’s responsibility is, to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter without any prejudice to the accused or the deceased. It appears to me as if more preference is being given to the accused as opposed to the deceased person Superintendent Henry Jemmott.
I read in the news that the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Belize, has decided to charge Ms. Jasmine Hartin with the crime of Manslaughter By Negligence. Something is wrong with that statement because to my knowledge the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), do not make arrests, investigate crimes or charge people for crimes committed in Belize. That role falls under the jurisdiction of the Police Officers.
The DPP’s role is to provide the Police Officers with legal guidance when they have problems deciding on a charge for a crime committed and how to legally prepare a case for a trial. The preferential treatment granted to Ms. Hartin because she is the wife or the common-law wife of Michael Ashcroft’s son Andrew, is setting the stage for an acquittal. It is now left to us as Belizeans, Garifuna and Creole people, to ensure that justice be granted for the death of our relative and friend Superintendent Henry Jemmott.
This case is being closely watched and monitored by many Belizeans including myself and it will not disappear in the dust like they are hoping.
This Superintendent Henry Jemmott case for PUP, is what the Mason case was for the UDP. Belize has become a country where rich families and their business associates, can do as they please while we the poor and the working class continue to suffer. As a former Police Officer and as a natural-born Belizean citizen, this incident is annoying me.
It became worse when I found out, that Superintendent Henry Jemmott is related to me from my Petillo family bloodline. It is time for all of us to stand up like men and women for justice, to secure our rights and privileges in our beloved country Belize if not we are doomed.
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