Shortly before a woman was found with her two children -- one dead and the other dying -- a liquor store security camera had recorded a haunting sight: the mother carrying her month old infant, and holding the hand of her 7-year-old as they walked down an empty sidewalk at night. None of the three was wearing any clothing, but were dusted with a ghostly white powder.
It happened Oct. 2017 in South Los Angeles. The mother, Jasmine Hickman, 27, has now been charged with the murders of her two children, Jaliya and Kamille. Hickman has entered a not guilty plea, and is due back in court Tuesday to set the date for her preliminary hearing.
"It's hard for me to grasp why she would do this," said Darren Hickman, Jasmine Hickman's uncle.
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Darren and his wife Barbara adopted Jasmine when she was orphaned before the age of 10.
"She had a log of issues, you know, a lot of anger also because she was dealt a bad hand," said Barbara Hickman.
With six other children in the household, the Hickmans had hoped to help Jasmine work through her issues.
"We didn't have much money, but we had a lot of love," Darren Hickman said.
When Jasmine gave birth to Jaliya, she was loving, but struggled with the responsibilities of motherhood, the Hickmans recalled.
They stepped up again to raise Jaliya. Jasmine found an apartment, tried pursuing cosmetology as a career, then landed a job working at the Ralph's market in downtown Los Angeles.
Kamille was born last summer, and remained with her mother. The father also continued to spend time with them, though strains in the relationship were evident, the Hickmans said.
In the days before the tragedy, Jasmine spent the weekend with the Hickmans, and joined them at church on that Sunday. What she did the next day concerned Barbara Hickman.
"She just said, 'God said my time was up, and to say my goodbyes to Jaliya.'"
Hickman said it worried her enough to call the Department of Children and Family Services, and later police after Jasmin took Jaliya out of school. The Hickmans, who had never been formally appointed as guardians, said they were told as the mother, Jasmine had the legal right to take Jaliya.
Three days later on October 19, they woke to the horrific news of the mother and two chlidren found behind the market on San Pedro at 23rd Street. No names were released, but the Hickmans feared the worst, and learned it was true when Barbara went to the police station.
A month elapsed before authorities concluded the deaths of the children were homicides, and charged Jasmine Hickman with their murders.
The criminal filing alleges that she committed assault by means of force; it does not explain the white powder and whether or not it was a factor.
"She needs to be evaluated, because I know something happened to her," said Darren Hickman.
"Things just trigger her," said Barbara Hickman. "If she would have come and talked with me, even with the baby, if it was too much, she could have just left the baby -- she could have left the baby with me."
For the Hickmans, the loss of the two children is almost unbearable, Jaliya's empty room a constant reminder. They have not attempted to see Jasmine in jail.
"I forgive Jasmine. I have to forgive Jasmine," said Barbara Hickman. "But I dont really right now want to talk to Jasmine. Because what are we really going to talk about?"