The trial of a Kenyan security guard accused of murdering an American teacher resumed yesterday with testimony from several investigators who inspected the woman’s Al Sadd apartment block following her death.
Sunday’s hearing marks the first time in months that the court has heard new evidence as the trial – which has been repeatedly held up due to witnesses failing to appear and scheduling confusion, among other delays – approaches the start of its third year.
However, the trial’s progress suffered another setback Sunday as a psychiatrist who examined the defendant once again failed to appear, prompting the judge to request that police locate the doctor and compel her to attend the next hearing later this month.
Jennifer Brown was killed in her home in November 2012, two months after moving to Qatar. Originally from Pennsylvania, the 40-year-old moved to the Middle East to work at the English Modern School in Al Wakrah.
Several days after Brown died, police arrested a security guard who worked at her accommodation. School officials previously told Doha News that the man confessed to the crime to police, a claim corroborated by an investigator in court yesterday.
Under questioning by a judge, an investigator said the defendant told him that he raped and then stabbed Brown with the intent of killing her.
He also said a ring, with a distinctive red stone, was found at the crime scene. He added that several teachers who also lived in the building told him that they had previously seen the security guard wearing it.
Separately, four other investigators told the court that the security guard directed them to where he had hidden the murder weapon.
They said the defendant initially denied knowing where the knife was located, but he eventually confessed that he had wrapped the weapon in newspapers and hidden it behind several pieces of wood atop the roof of Brown’s building.
Later in the hearing, the court heard from a forensic examiner who conducted an autopsy of Brown’s body.
She testified that her investigation found that the teacher died from a loss of blood resulting from the stab wounds. She also found extensive bruising around her neck, leg, head and lip that suggested Brown had been involved in a violent struggle. The doctor said there was also evidence she had been sexually assaulted.
When reached by phone yesterday at his home in the US, Brown’s father, Robert, said it was “disheartening” that the trial was continuing to drag on with no end in sight.
He said he wanted to know why the defendant killed his daughter.
“This is the question that is always on my mind, every minute of the day,” he told Doha News.
A defense lawyer, who has since resigned, requested a psychiatric examination of his client last year. The results of that evaluation have not been disclosed in court, but appear to have been shared with the judge and attorneys involved in the case.
The defendant’s current lawyer has said the report contains discrepancies and material that requires clarification, and has requested that the psychiatrist who authored it appear in court as a witness.
The doctor has failed to appear in court despite being summoned more than a half-dozen times. In November, a judge ordered that a travel ban be placed on the psychiatrist as well as the five criminal investigators who appeared in court Sunday.
After the doctor once again failed to appear, the judge yesterday referred the matter to police. A legal source told Doha News that they will likely track the woman down and force her to sign a written promise to present herself at a police station the morning of the next hearing. Officers will then escort her to court.
The next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 30.