A Kenyan security guard on trial for murdering an American teacher in Doha has been deemed mentally sound and thus accountable for his actions by a psychiatrist who testified in court this week.
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.
According to previous testimony, the man confessed to the crime to police, saying he raped and then stabbed the teacher with the intent of killing her.
During the last hearing in November, investigators told the court that the guard directed them to where he hid the murder weapon, a knife that he said he had wrapped in newspapers and hidden on the roof of Brown’s building.
After being summoned more than half a dozen times since last year, a psychiatrist who assessed the defendant finally appeared in court on Tuesday following a police order.
She testified that she only spoke to the defendant some eight months after he had already been in jail, and thus could not assess his state of mind at the time of the crime or shortly thereafter.
However, after meeting him in July 2013, the doctor said she found that the defendant did not show any symptoms of mental illness that would make him unaccountable for his actions.
She added that she observed him to be mostly quiet, and noted that he did not speak frequently with other patients at the hospital during his one-week stay.
She said in her opinion, this was likely because he was locked up in jail and facing punishment in a murder trial.
During the hearing, the defendant’s attorney said that his client had a habit of doing drugs and asked the psychiatrist if that could make him unaware of or unaccountable for his actions.
She said that usually a person who does drugs or is under the influence of narcotics when committing a crime is still considered responsible because they chose to take the substances and the altered state of mind is not considered a mental illness.
Finally, the attorney asked if the defendant appeared to be the type to be easily aroused or moved to rage.
She responded that she observed that he was quiet, calm and cooperative with the other patients even though he did not socialize much. Theoretically, however, a person who does drugs can be easily aroused while under the influence and can be prone to committing a crime regardless of the personality type, she added.
The next hearing will be on Jan. 25, 2015. Before then, the judge asked that the Brown family’s attorney submits documents in Arabic with the names of the teacher’s inheritors, and whether they seek retribution, pardon or financial compensation.
The judge asked a US embassy representative in the courtroom to communicate this request to the family.
When reached by phone in the US, Trisha Snisky, Brown’s sister, said that her family was having trouble paying for an attorney to represent them in Qatar. Their current lawyer quit two days before this most recent hearing, she added.
In response to questions about their wishes regarding the defendant, she said:
“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.”