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, 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.
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.
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.
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.