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Qatar court finds security guard guilty of murdering teacher

Lower criminal court in Doha

Shabina S. Khatri

Lower criminal court in Doha

Updated at 8pm with comment from Brown’s family

A Kenyan man on trial for killing an American teacher in Qatar has been convicted of murder by a lower criminal court in Doha.

Reading the guilty verdict this morning, the judge ordered Alvine Moseti Anyona to serve a life sentence in Qatar, which is technically 15 to 20 years. He will then be deported.

 Jennifer Brown

File photo

Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown, a 40-year-old teacher who worked at the English Modern School in Al Wakrah, was killed two months after moving to Qatar, in November 2012.

Her body was found in her Al Sadd apartment, where she and several fellow teachers lived.

The defendant, a security guard in the building, was arrested days after her death, and according to court witnesses, confessed to the crime and directed investigators to the murder weapon.

However, speaking to Doha News outside of the courtroom today, a close Kenyan friend of Anyona’s said that his confession was coerced, and that he was beaten into giving it.

He added that the defendant, who is in his early 30s and is married with a daughter back home, said that he has “lots of pain and regret,” but didn’t specify about what. He plans to appeal the verdict.

Defense arguments

According to Anyona’s attorney, the killing was not premeditated. He said the guard had gone to Brown’s apartment the night of her death after she requested he make a repair.

In his closing arguments last month, the lawyer alleged that Brown “picked a fight” with Anyona “as was her habit.”

He added that the woman “yelled at him and bossed him around” and that the man snapped and, in the heat of the moment, hit her head against the door.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

UAA Justice Center For Students

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The lawyer did not attempt to reconcile his version of events with previous testimony from the forensic examiner, who said Brown died from a loss of blood resulting from the stab wounds.

The examiner had also stated that Brown was found partially unclothed in her bed and had been sexually assaulted, which the defendant previously confessed to, according to a police officer’s testimony.

The defendant theoretically faced the death penalty for murder, but Brown’s family members, who are based in the US, said in a letter filed with the court last month that they would prefer the man receives a prison sentence if found guilty.

However, speaking to Doha News today, both of Brown’s parents expressed disappointment about the verdict. Reached by phone, Brown’s father Robert said:

“This sentence is not nearly enough for what that creep did, for all the damage he caused. We live with our sentence everyday. We have a verdict for life. Losing our little girl and living with that loss everyday of our lives is our verdict till we die.

Why is it then that he (the defendant) does not get to spend the rest of his life in prison? What kind of life sentence is this?”

US embassy officials were present at today’s verdict, but left immediately afterwards. The embassy declined comment when asked by Doha News.

Thoughts?

Qatar judge sets verdict date in Jennifer Brown murder trial

Lower criminal court in Doha

Shabina S. Khatri

Lower criminal court in Doha

A Kenyan security guard on trial for killing an American teacher should be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter, not murder, his lawyer told a Doha court today.

In his closing arguments, the lawyer presented an alternative narrative of what led to the death of 40-year-old Jennifer Brown in November 2012.

He said the security guard “snapped” during a verbal altercation and hit the woman’s head against a door. However, the lawyer did not address testimony from a forensic investigator who said Brown died as a result of stab wounds and had been sexually assaulted.

The lawyer’s closing arguments represent one of the final chapters in a long-running case, ahead of an expected verdict next month.

 Jennifer Brown

File photo

Jennifer Brown

Brown was killed in her Al Sadd apartment two months after moving to Qatar to work at the English Modern School in Al Wakrah.

Several days after her death, police officers arrested a security guard who worked at the compound where Brown and several of her fellow teachers lived.

According to previous court witnesses, he confessed to the crime and directed investigators to the building’s roof, where he had hidden the knife used to kill the 40-year-old woman. A psychiatric exam conducted eight months after Brown’s death concluded that the man was mentally sound.

If convicted of murder, the defendant could theoretically face the death penalty. However, Brown’s family members said in a letter filed with the court today that they would prefer the man receives a prison sentence if found guilty.

Hearing the wishes of a victim’s family after a crime is committed is a common practice in Qatar. However, the court is not legally bound to honor any sentencing requests.

Closing argument

The defendant’s lawyer told the court today that his client did not intend to kill Brown and that he should have been charged with manslaughter – technically, “beating that led to death.” That crime carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison under Qatari law.

In a brief speech, the lawyer argued that the killing was not premeditated. He said that the defendant did not seek out Brown that night and that the teacher requested he come to her flat to make a repair.

Today, the defense lawyer alleged that Brown “picked a fight” with the security guard “as was her habit.”

He added that the woman “yelled at him and bossed him around” and that the man snapped and, in the heat of the moment, hit her head against the door.

The defendant then carried Brown into her bedroom, according to the defense lawyer, who offered no explanation as to why the security guard moved the woman’s body.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

UAA Justice Center For Students

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

He did not address testimony from a forensic examiner who said there was evidence that Brown was found partially unclothed in her bed and had been sexually assaulted, which the defendant previously confessed to, according to a police officer’s testimony.

To advance his theory that the security guard had not set out to kill Brown, the lawyer noted that his client had not brought a weapon with him to the flat. Instead, the knife involved in her death was already in Brown’s flat, he said.

Despite making reference to the weapon, the lawyer maintained that Brown had been beaten to death and did not say how the knife had been used that day.

The lawyer did not attempt to reconcile his version of events with the testimony from the forensic examiner, who said Brown died from a loss of blood resulting from the stab wounds.

He only addressed the testimony from witnesses in general terms, arguing that nothing conclusive had been said that proved his client went to Brown’s flat with the intention of killing her.

The prosecutor remained silent during today’s hearing and did not make any closing arguments.

The defense lawyer is expected to prepare a written version of his argument that the security guard be charged with manslaughter, rather than murder, ahead of the judge delivering a verdict on April 14.

Thoughts?

Father of teacher murdered in Qatar favors death penalty for killer

Doha criminal court

Shabina S. Khatri

Doha criminal court

The father of an American teacher killed in Qatar has said he supports the death penalty as a punishment for his daughter’s accused killer.

The judge hearing the case said late last month that he would like to hear the wishes of Jennifer Brown’s family before proceeding with the trial of a Kenyan security guard charged with her murder.

 Jennifer Brown

File photo

Jennifer Brown

The official reiterated that request during a court hearing yesterday.

Specifically, the judge has asked that the family officially name the woman’s “inheritors” and submit in writing whether they would like financial compensation, retribution or the killer to be pardoned – which would likely mean a jail sentence, rather than the death penalty.

Brown, 40, was killed in her home in November 2012, two months after moving to Qatar to work at the English Modern School in Al Wakrah.

A security guard working in Brown’s Al Sadd building was arrested in connection with her death.

Taking life

Speaking to Doha News, relatives of Jennifer Brown said in early January that they were delayed in filing the requested paperwork because their previous attorney quit on short notice.

When reached by phone in his home in Pennsylvania last night, the woman’s father said he would like to see his daughter’s killer sentenced to death.

“He didn’t only take the life of my little girl. He took the life of me and my wife as well,” Robert Brown told Doha News.

However, it is unclear whether his wish will be communicated to the Qatar judge.

Robert Brown said he recently signed off on a form given to him by Jennifer Brown’s sister, Trisha Snisky. She previously told Doha News that she would like the killer’s life to be spared:

“We are Catholics. We don’t believe in the death penalty. Its cruelty is unChristian and we don’t want to be like him (the defendant). But we want to see him go to prison. He needs to spend time in prison for what he did.”

Robert Brown said he doesn’t know what the form said and that he signed it simply to get it out of the way, hopefully bringing the legal proceedings toward a conclusion more than two years after Brown’s death.

Snisky could not immediately be reached for comment.

While the death penalty is still being handed out by courts in Qatar, the sentence is not believed to have been carried out in more than a decade.

Previous testimony

The discussions about the family’s sentencing wishes appear to come as the court gets ready to issue a verdict in the case.

The accused man reportedly confessed to the crime shortly after being arrested, a claim corroborated by an investigator during a hearing in early December.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Kathea Pinto/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The police officer said the defendant told authorities where he had hidden the murder weapon, a knife that investigators found wrapped in newspaper on the roof of Brown’s building.

Separately, a psychiatrist testified in late December that following an examination, she found the defendant to be mentally sound and accountable for his actions.

The next hearing is scheduled for March 8. The defense lawyer has previously indicated that he does not plan to call further witnesses and is ready to give his closing statement.

Thoughts?