We’ll look at the events of the death in part two later this week. Today, we’ll look at two key questions she is asked; was she having an affair with Henry Jemmott and had she taken drugs on the night he died?
Let’s break it down
More than friends?
Peter Van Sant: There has been a lot of talk around Belize that you and Henry Jemmott were more than friends, that you may have been lovers.
Jasmine Hartin [Shaking her head]: That's not true. That's not true at all.
Peter Van Sant: You guys never had a sexual relationship?
Jasmine Hartin [Shaking her head]: No.
She’s telling her truth here; however we have to look at what she considers the truth to be.
What would a perfect denial to this question look like? It would be along the lines “no, it was a purely platonic relationship” or “we were friends and nothing sexual or romantic happened between us”.
The point put to her is “you may have been lovers”. It’s an old-fashioned concept and a polite way to ask if there was a romantic or sexual element to their relationship. I’m not sure how many couples these days would consider themselves lovers. If you don’t see yourselves as lovers, it’s an easy thing to deny. For example, If you considered yourselves “friends with benefits” you can deny being lovers without putting yourself under the stress of lying.
There’s a need to convince with this answer, “not true” is repeated just to make sure we get the idea that it is not true they were lovers. “Not true at all” means the same thing as “not true” the words “at all” are added to convince.
All we can take from this answer is that she didn’t consider them as lovers. She doesn’t deny that they were more than friends either sexually or romantically.
The interviewer then asks if they had a sexual relationship. As Bill Clinton once proved, we all have our own definition of sexual relations.
It’s entirely possible that Jasmine considers someone you have sex with but have no commitments to is not someone you are in a sexual relationship with. That is, it was sexual but there was no relationship. Therefore, if that were the case. she can answer “no” to being in a sexual relationship without once lying.
People don’t like lying, they’ll use all sorts of cherry-picking and linguistic loopholes to avoid doing it.
The conclusion here is that while she has tried to give the impression that there was nothing sexual in their relationship she hasn’t been convincing with her words.
Peter Van Sant: Had you used cocaine that evening?
Jasmine Hartin: No.
Peter Van Sant: Do you use cocaine? … Do you have a drug problem?
Jasmine Hartin: I definitely do not have a drug problem at all. And I will say that the substance that they found was not mine.
“No” is a denial but it’s a very flat one. “No, I hadn’t used or taken drugs that day” would be a much more convincing denial. A simple “no” allows all sorts of leeway within Jasmine’s linguistic definitions. Maybe she considers she used drugs that night instead of that evening, maybe she considers she took drugs but didn’t use them. We don’t know because she didn’t say. “No” on its own isn’t an indication of deception but it’s a flag to look more into what is said and what isn’t said.
Next, she’s asked a compound question. In this case two questions at once. Do you use cocaine, and do you have a drug problem?
Compound questions are best avoided if you’re trying to get to the truth of something. Someone who is being deceptive will pick the easiest question to answer and move on to as safe ground as possible. They’ll be hoping we don’t notice they avoided answering the other question.
Here, Jasmine only answers one of the questions. She never answers the question “do you use cocaine” and we must ask why.
Instead, she responds to the “do you have a drug problem part”. It’s perfectly possible to use drugs without considering you have a problem with drugs. This would make it safe ground where you can honestly answer the question, avoid the stress of lying and give the impression you want to give.
Once more, she is overly keen to convince here. She definitely doesn’t have a drug problem at all. If you remove the words “definitely” and “at all” from the answer you get a sentence with the same meaning. These extra words have been added for the reason of convincing us. When people are being truthful, they tend to state pure facts in their simplest terms.
Avoiding the “do you use drugs“ question is a red flag. In everything else in this section, Jasmine doesn’t offer enough for us to conclude her denial is convincing. She wants to give the impression she isn’t a regular drug user and that she hadn’t taken drugs before the killing but she never gives enough for us to conclude either of those things.
Overall, with these questions, Jasmine is quite brief with her answers. She doesn’t try to move off the topic she’s being questioned about or over explain her answers. Therefore, these are not subjects that cause her a lot of stress. However, there is, on both subjects, a need to convince us that she’s being truthful. Her words also suggest there is some extra information that she is hiding.
Next time, we’ll look at her words on how Harry was killed. We’ll see that, when there’s a lot of stress going on, Jasmine ramps up her need to convince and starts offering a lot more words for us to analyse.
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