The primary defendant was sentenced to death, according to information released by The Associated Press.
According to the AP report, the president of the Mauritanian tribunal Khayi Ould Mohamed announced the verdict that Mohamed Ould Ahmednah had been found guilty of planning Leggett’s murder and was sentenced to death.
The judge also announced the sentencing of accomplice Didi Ould Bezeid to 12 years in prison, and Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Khouna to three years for providing logistical support.
Leggett, 39 at the time of his death, was a Cleveland High School graduate and had lived in Mauritania for six years where he provided humanitarian aid while teaching at a school specializing in computer science. He was the son of Jay and Linda Leggett of Cleveland. Leggett and his wife, Jackie, the daughter of Charles and Shirley Beard of Cleveland, had four children.
The humanitarian worker was the brother of Jay Lynn Leggett Jr. of Cleveland.
After being contacted by the Cleveland Daily Banner early today, the Leggett family issued a statement later in the morning. In response to the Mauritanian court verdict, Jay Leggett Sr. provided the following comments on behalf of the Leggett family:
“Our family would like to again express our deep appreciation to everyone for the many expressions of love and caring that we have received since the murder of our son, husband, father and brother, Christopher Leggett 90 weeks ago.
“We were made aware a few days ago by the United States Embassy in Mauritania that the government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania had announced that the trial of the three men alleged to have been involved in the murder of Christopher would take place sometime after March 14, 2011.
“The United States Embassy advised us on March 15, 2011, that the trial had been held and that guilty verdicts had been rendered for all three.
“The murderer was sentenced to death, one participant received a 12-year sentence and the other participant received three years.
“We have in the past expressed on several occasions our appreciation to the government of Mauritania for their efforts in apprehending those involved in the murder of Christopher, and our confidence that they would administer appropriate justice.
“Our family is still experiencing mixed emotions regarding the judicial process, and we pray that the Mauritanian government will gain the wisdom to administer appropriate justice to those involved in the murder.
“Our family continues to remember in our prayers those who participated in the murder of Christopher as well as their families, and hope that others will as well. We ask that everyone continue to remember our family in their prayers.”
Leggett, who attended First Baptist Church of Cleveland before starting his humanitarian aid work in Mauritania, was fatally shot in the Mauritanian capital not far from the school at which he taught and helped to run, according to AP reports. A North African offshoot of al-Qaida claimed responsibility. The group reported they killed the American, alleging that he was trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.
News reports two years ago immediately following the shooting death quoted an unnamed Nouakchott police officer who said, “Two men had initially tried to kidnap Mr. Leggett. But he resisted and they shot him when they realized they could not overpower him.”