PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – A judge on Monday sentenced a man to 19 years at hard labor for stabbing to death an American teenager on the southern Caribbean island of Tobago.
Sean Antoine, 28, was convicted in April of killing 14-year-old Kitty Pepe of Keene, New York. They had dated previously but had broken up before he repeatedly stabbed her on July 1, 2005, at the home where she had been staying with her mother in the seaside town of Charlotteville.
Antoine faced a possible death sentence if convicted of murder, but jurors convicted him of manslaughter after he testified the girl had taunted him, a defense that outraged the girl's family. The lesser charge meant he could be sentenced to as little as the time he had already served since his arrest.
Justice Geoffrey Henderson said at the sentencing hearing in Scarborough, the capital of Tobago, that Antoine did not deserve the lesser charge of manslaughter and the sentence was intended to send a message it is inappropriate for men to be involved with underage girls.
Wayne Sturge, Antoine's attorney, told The Associated Press after the hearing that he considered the sentence reasonable and did not plan to appeal. Under the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, he will only have to serve about 14 years of the sentence.
Kitty had visited the island occasionally since 1997 while her mother worked on sea turtle conservation efforts in Tobago, which had long been considered peaceful but has been shaken by a number of violent attacks on foreigners in recent years.
The girl's family previously said they were hoping that Antoine would be sentenced to life in prison because of the violence in the attack.