Posted: Tuesday, April 25, 2023. 10:32 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: At 3:58 this afternoon, after two years, ten months, and three days since she shot Senior Superintendent of Police Henry Jemmott with his own weapon on a moon-lit pier in Ambergris Caye, Jasmine Hartin opened her mouth to say the word that would put an end to the entire saga: “Guilty.”
That was her plea to the charge of manslaughter by negligence and minutes later, she gave her only press statement to court reporter Anita Nembhard when asked if she had anything else to say at this time: “I just want Henry’s family to have peace now and I want this whole thing to be behind us so we can heal.”
It also means, per High Court Justice Ricardo Sandcroft’s sentencing indication, that she will avoid jail time with a non-custodial sentence – that is, a fine of some amount.
Sentencing has been set for May 31 – three days after the second anniversary of the incident.
The Crown was represented by Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, but in court this morning, defense counsel Oscar Selgado, who had succeeded Richard “Dickie” Bradley, was relieved of the brief in favour of Senior Counsel Hubert Elrington, assisted by son Orson “O.J.” Elrington.
The case was called after 11 a.m. but just as quickly adjourned until three this afternoon. Justice Sandcroft advised family members of Jemmott who showed up in t-shirts bearing his picture that their attire would have to be changed and that “The court is not guided by sympathy.” He ruled that they could stay for the proceedings as long as they did not wear the shirts, which were changed when the case resumed this afternoon.
There was additional disclosure given to Hubert Elrington prior to the adjournment as the DPP told the court that if Hartin decided not to plea, the Crown would be ready to start the trial.
At three when the case was called again, Elrington asked the judge to present a sentencing indication, which Justice Sandcroft reminded he had already given back in November and which Hartin’s attorney then had rejected.
Except, the accused rose to say, she had not told her attorney not to take the offer and had no idea he had rejected it. Justice Sandcroft granted the brief adjournment and after conferral, the plea finally came. An emotional Hartin said she was doing so freely, without the use of force or promise by anyone, and that she had been fairly treated by her new attorneys and by the court.
As previously noted, when the matter of bail came up for Hartin when she was first charged, the court has dealt with a handful of cases concerning negligent use of firearms with varying results, including some jail time being given. A social inquiry report and other factors will be assessed in determining the final sentence, but the Court is bound by its decision to give a non-custodial sentence.
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