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Qatar Judge Asks Family of Slain U.S.Teacher for Sentence Guidance

A Qatari court asked the family of allegedly murdered U.S. teacher Jennifer Brown to weigh in on the potential punishment for her suspected killer.

The family of an American teacher slain in Qatar said Monday that they have requested a life sentence for her suspected killer if he is convicted. Jennifer Brown, who is originally from Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, was found dead in her apartment in the Gulf kingdom in November 2012. A Kenyan security guard has been charged with first-degree murder.

During a hearing on Sunday a judge offered the family the opportunity to weigh in on the potential sentence of the defendant, according to her sister and the U.S. Embassy in Doha. "We want the full punishment: life in prison," Brown’s sister Tricia Snisky told NBC News via telephone from her home in Pennsylvania. "They told us they did not want to make a decision until they heard what the family wants."

Snisky, a 40-year-old stay-at-home mom, said the judge offered them the choice of life in prison, compensation — known as "blood money" in Islamic law — and a pardon. She said they were advised the death penalty was unlikely as the country had not issued such a sentence in more than a decade.

The family, which has been in constant contact with legal representatives in Qatar, say they have been deeply frustrated by the two-year wait for a verdict. The case has been bogged down in a series of adjournments that have not been fully explained to the family, Snisky said. The U.S. Embassy in Doha, which had a representative in the court, confirmed the judge had asked the family to submit its wishes for the sentence.

- Alexander Smith