Jasmine Lynn Ledbetter was born April 23, 2000, to parents Brenda and Kevin Ledbetter in Oxford, Mississippi. Brenda had looked forward to being a parent and was a full-time homemaker, reveling in her role as a mother.
Both parents showered Jasmine with love, but Brenda especially doted on her child and rarely left her alone. She refused to leave her baby with a sitter for fear something might happen to her. Kevin went along with Benda's wishes but worried that Jasmine was being smothered by her mother's constant hovering.
When Jasmine entered kindergarten, Brenda enrolled her in dancing lessons, but Jasmine rebelled at the "girly" activity. At Kevin's urging, Jasmine began Bobby Sox Softball as soon as she turned five. Kevin became a coach, and Brenda, reluctantly at first, participated as a team mother or scorekeeper, making Jasmine's activity a family endeavor.
Jasmine enjoyed playing softball and was very demanding of herself and her teammates and coaches. She often criticized her teammates for their mistakes, her coaches for not playing her more, and her parents for letting the coaches get away with reprimanding her. Consequently, she was not popular with other players, the coaches or other parents, some of whom characterized her as "a spoiled brat."
In school, Jasmine was an average student and an independent child who insisted on completing homework and classroom exercises without assistance from anyone. When her mother volunteered as a classroom aide, Jasmine balked, and the teachers finally had to remove Mrs. Ledbetter because her presence distressed Jasmine and consequently disrupted the class.
By the time Jasmine was in high school, her parents' marriage was in trouble and finally ended in divorce during Jasmine's junior year. In spite of her mother's interference, Jasmine maintained a good relationship with her father until he remarried.
Jasmine confided to a friend that she felt her dad's wife, Shannon, seemed to resent her, and no matter what Jasmine did, it was wrong in Shannon's eyes. But the friend also said Jasmine sometimes did things to purposely antagonize Shannon.
When Jasmine was old enough to get a work permit, she began working part-time at McDonald's. After a few years, she took a job at Square Pizza and worked her way up to assistant manager. Between sports, school, and work, Jasmine was rarely at home, and Brenda was unhappy that Jasmine seemed to be pulling away from her.
After graduating from high school, Jasmine worked longer and longer hours. She had recently confided to friends that she was saving money to get her own place away from her mother's eyes and ears.