|A Chinese court has reduced the prison sentence for former college football player and American citizen Wendell Brown from four years to three for his involvement in a bar fight, a rights monitoring group said Wednesday.
Brown, a native of Detroit who played for Ball State University in Indiana, had been teaching English and American football in southwest China when he was arrested in September 2016 and charged with intentional assault. He denied hitting a man at a bar and said he was defending himself after being attacked.
The San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation said Brown will be transferred from a detention center to a prison in the southwestern city of Chongqing, from where he can then apply for early release. He is now due to be set free on Sept. 24, 2019.
The court issued no official statement and an assistant judge in the case, reached by phone, directed inquiries to the court's management office, which did not immediately respond to faxed questions seeking comment.
Brown, 31, was convicted on June 28 and his reduction in sentence is one of an estimated 15 percent of appeals that are successful in China, Dui Hua said. Friends, family and supporters had hoped he would be immediately deported, as is allowed under Chinese law.
"While this is not the result we hoped for it is nevertheless the best that could be achieved," the group's executive director, John Kamm, said in an emailed statement.