Thursday, April 18, 2024

Anke Doehm found guilty of Cruelty to a Child in the death of her adopted daughter


Anke Doehm

American national Anke Doehm, 63, was found guilty of Cruelty to a Child in the death of her adopted 13-year-old daughter, Faye Lin Cannon, on Monday, March 4th, at the High Court in Belize City. Doehm was remanded to the Kolbe Foundation- Belize Central Prison pending sentencing set for March 14, 2024.

Doehm had been facing a charge of Cruelty to a Child after her adopted daughter Cannon was found dead in her bedroom on July 3, 2017, in their apartment north of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. Initially, Anke and her husband, David Doehm, were detained after a postmortem revealed the child did not die from natural causes but rather from abuse. Anke was left alone to face the charge after David committed suicide at a hotel in Belize City in October 2017. Doehm had since been living in Belize City.

Faye Lin Cannon

The trial against her started on February 21st, with several witnesses testifying in the High Court. Some of these witnesses included members of the Belize Police Department. One of the officers testifying works in forensics and was based in San Pedro, while the other involved in investigating the case continued working on the island.

The trial continued Monday morning with newly appointed High Court Judge Derick Sylvester summing up the case before a nine-member Jury. The jurors reportedly deliberated just before midday and returned with a unanimous verdict, finding Doehm guilty of the charge of Cruelty to a Child. Former High Court judge and attorney Adolph Lucas Sr represented Doehm. The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Cheryl Lynn Vidal, represented the Crown.

The Crown presented to the court that between January 1, 2017, and July 3, 2017, Doehm wilfully neglected her adopted 13-year-old daughter in a manner likely to cause injury to her health. Doehm, however, refutes such allegations, saying that she is not guilty and never did anything to her adopted daughter, Cannon. Some of the evidence shared with the Jury included images of Cannon’s severely bruised body before her postmortem.

The DPP also reportedly produced images in court depicting Cannon as a malnourished child. The DPP is said to have referred to such evidence as a neglected child not adequately fed. Doehm, however, told the jurors that the child, Cannon, was well taken care of while living in a condominium complex north of San Pedro Town. The DPP replied that Cannon was reportedly fed two slices of white bread with butter and a glass of water for breakfast and another two slices of bread with hot dog sausage for lunch. The DPP stressed that it was a balanced meal for a child of Cannon’s age. The DPP said the postmortem results backed up all the evidence.

According to the presentations in court, the doctor conducting the postmortem on Cannon said she died from compression of the chest, the injury believed to have been done by David Doehm, compromising her heart and lungs. While she was dying, Doehm saw her condition and chose to ignore the signs and did not take her for medical care. The DPP said that Doehm did not seek medical attention because the bruises Cannon sustained would raise suspicions by doctors. She concluded that Cannon’s death was not by accident but intentional neglect by Doehm and is liable for Cruelty to a Child.

Doehm’s attorney, Lucas Sr., urged the jurors not to believe the Crown’s evidence against his client. He argued that what her deceased husband may have done to Cannon was not her fault. He asked the court to acquit Doehm of the charge and set her free because the Crown did not prove such a charge against his client. Lucas Sr. also asked for his client to be allowed to travel to Mexico for cancer treatment and that she is innocent.

The jurors were not convinced and found Doehm guilty. She now remains at the central prison, where she will be sentenced in two weeks.


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