Socialite Jasmine Hartin has pleaded guilty to the "accidental" shooting death of a Belizean police chief in the Caribbean country of Belize. Hartin, 34, the ex-wife of Andrew Ashcroft, the son of British millionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, broke down in tears as she entered her plea on Tuesday at Belize City's Supreme Court, according to the UK's Telegraph.
She was scheduled to stand trial for the negligent manslaughter of Henry Jemmott. On Tuesday, Hartin was seen crying as she told the media she wants the dead cop's family "to have peace now." Hartin's attorneys had asked for a last-minute adjournment in order to consider entering a guilty plea.
Out of Guilt
The court will sit next for a sentencing hearing, which is expected to take place on May 31. Hartin shot Superintendent Henry Jemmott, the father of five, in the head as the two were out drinking near Ashcroft's hotel on the island of Ambergris Caye in May 2021. She was charged with manslaughter by negligence.
"I just want Henry's family to have peace now and I want this whole thing to be behind all of us so we can heal," Hartin said as she broke down outside the court on Tuesday.
Prosecutors gave Judge Ricardo Sandcroft a dossier of evidence that was supposed to be revealed if the trial moved on during the hearing on Tuesday.
Hartin stood in the little wooden dock to make her last-minute appeal in the crowded courtroom, with her voice trembling and tears flowing down her face.
The murdered officer's daughters and sisters, who had resolutely attended judicial sessions ever since he was killed over two years ago, kept watch over her.
The Belizean courthouse heard that the precedence in the case of a guilty plea for the offense was a non-custodial sentence including a fine.
The Judge warned Hartin in an earlier hearing that he was "not bound" by the existing precedent, but he suggested he was unlikely to "veer away" from it.
Law to Take Its Own Course
The dead officer's family was too distraught to speak after the hearing having earlier been in left in tears after receiving a reprimand from the judge for donning t-shirts bearing Supt. Jemmott's photos.
The judge told them that the t-shirts would not be permitted in court again and stated that he was obligated by law to be "dispassionate."
During a brief recess, the family was compelled to buy simple t-shirts. They then returned just in time to hear Hartin make her plea.
According to Hartin, on the night of the shooting, she and Jemmott allegedly enjoyed a drink and strolled to a pier because "the moon was beautiful."
The Canadian socialite claimed that the senior officer gave her access to his Glock 17 handgun so that she could practice loading and unloading it before it "just went off."
"I don't remember ever touching that trigger on the gun so I don't know what happened, to be honest," Hartin said in a June 2022 interview.
"I was trying to get the clip out and it just went off â I don't remember ever touching the trigger. So I'm not sure if it was a faulty weapon or not. I really can't tell you how it went off," she said.
"I'm definitely not a murderer. And I am being set up. I am. I really am. It's such a small country, everybody's scared of Ashcroft here. They own the bank, they own the newspapers, they own the economy of this country," Hartin added.
Hartin has vehemently denied having a romantic relationship with the police chief, claiming that the only reason he requested her to rub his shoulder that fateful night was because he had gone fishing earlier in the day.
According to Orson Elrington, Hartin's lawyer, her main worry was "was to not put the family of the victim through the anguish of having to go through a trial proceeding, so she consistently expressed her concern about that," according to the Independent.
In the past, Hartin alleged that "corrupt" police officers had plotted to kill her and pass her death off as a failed jailbreak.