Mother of 22-year-old murder victim speaks of grief, loss & grandchildren
One day not that long ago, Jermel Newman’s 2-year-old granddaughter asked where her Mama was.
“I told her to come sit in my lap,” Jermel Newman said as she touched her heart. “Mama’s not here anymore. She’s going to be your angel. She put her head on my chest and cried.”
Newman’s life has been a whirlwind of grief and numbness where she sometimes dreams her daughter, Jasmine Newman, is standing before her, alive. Newman is trying to cope with the Oct. 20 fatal shooting of Jasmine.
Police are still searching for the gunman, who shot into a crowd of people at a party outside of a Port Arthur home in the 1100 block of Vicksburg, hitting four people and killing Jasmine on Oct. 20, one day before her 23rd birthday.
Newman said Jasmine must have ducked down when the bullets began to fly. She was shot in the back. She must have put her head up at some point and that’s when she was shot in head, killing her.
Police called the ambush-style shooting cowardly in that Jasmine, an innocent bystander, left behind a 2-year-old girl and 4-month-old boy. She had no criminal background and was not affiliated with any gangs nor was any of the others at the party.
“I feel like this is a dream. I know I put her in the ground but my mind tells me different from my heart,” Newman said. “Everybody else was shot in the leg, shoulder; she’s the one shot in the back and one in the head.”
Newman and Jasmine shared a multi-story apartment filled with love and laughter. Jasmine liked to cook and be with her two small children, bringing them to the park, reading with them, tending to their needs and showering them with love.
The grieving mother recalled how Jasmine loved music.
“She used to run me crazy (with loud music). Be in the bathroom in the tub in her own zone and the kids would be sleeping,” she said, her eyes drifting off as if still in the moment.
And there are plenty of moments, some show the depth of the emotional pain Newman is enduring.
Jasmine worked at a nearby Walmart — getting up during the night with the baby then going in to work by 5:30 a.m. Newman said her mind has played tricks on her at the store.
“I see my daughter there at the register checking out a customer,” she said. “The girl looked just like her. Wore her hair and makeup the same.”
Then there are trips to the grocery store and other places the two frequented together. The memories are too painful.
“I have to get away from Port Arthur,” Newman said as she unconsciously rubbed her hands. She plans to go out of town for a while and be with other family members.
Jasmine, the future
A 2015 graduate of Memorial High School, Jasmine had goals for the future. She wanted work as a prison guard to provide more for her children.
Port Arthur Police Det. Mike Hebert said they have not received any tips from the public but detectives are following all leads.
At the height of the party there were up to 50 people in attendance, and by the time the shooting occurred only seven were standing outside getting ready to leave.
Newman is planning for the arrest of her daughter’s killer, who has yet to be found. She will have a T-shirt with her daughter’s picture with the words “Justice for Jasmine is done.” There will be a march with city leaders, a balloon release and eventually a fund set up in Jasmine’s name to help parents of murdered children.
And most of all she waits to sit in front of the killer and talk to him; as she speaks her voice becomes stern. “You’re gonna be in a cell. You killed an innocent girl — that will be playing on a reel over and over in your head,” she said as if addressing the murderer. “You took her from her babies. She can’t hold them. She can’t hug them. She can’t read to them. She can’t give them a bath. She won’t bring them to pre-k when they’re older. She won’t be at their birthday because of you, because you took my child.”
A GoFundMe account — Justice for Jasmine Newman — has been setup to help expenses related to funeral, burial and assistance to Jasmine’s two children.
But for now Jasmine’s murder is unsolved.
“All we’re asking for is a phone call,” Hebert said.
Those with information about the killing can call the PAPD at 983-8600 or Crime Stoppers at 833-TIPS. You won’t be asked your name and may be eligible for a cash reward.