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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: British millionaire - Maharaj confronted Mr Moo Young to demand $600,000 which had allegedly been defrauded from his relatives in Trinidad
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: October 16, 1986
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: January 26, 1939
Victims profile: Derrick Moo Young, 53, and his son, Duane Young, 23
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Miami, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in 1987. Commuted to life imprisonment in 2002

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Krishna Maharaj (born January 26, 1939) is a Trinidad and Tobago-born British businessman and brother of Ramesh Maharaj, former Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago. In 1987 he was convicted by a Florida court for the double murders of Derrick Moo Young and his son, Duane Young, and was sentenced to death.

The alleged motives as to the murders was that the elder victim Derrick Moo Young had fraudulently taken money from Krishna Maharaj's relatives in Trinidad and that Maharaj wanted to confront Moo Young to demand that he repay the money. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2002. Maharaj absolutely denies committing the murders for which he was convicted.

Maharaj arranged a false meeting with Derrick Moo Young in the DuPont Plaza Hotel. Derrick Moo Young turned up to room 1215 together with his son Duane. Once inside the room, Maharaj is said to have appeared with a gun from behind a door. An argument results, and the father, Derrick Moo Young, was shot to death by Maharaj. The prosecution stated that the son, Duane, was taken upstairs in the suite and shot by Maharaj.

In 2001, 300 British politicians, from various different parties, wrote a letter to the Gov. Jeb Bush, asking for a retrial, saying there were 'astonishing flaws' in the case against him and his original trial. He claims to have seven witnesses that place him 25 miles away from the crime scene at the time of the murders.


Krishna Maharaj

Krishna Maharaj was born in Trinidad in 1939, at a time when that country was subject to British rule and its citizens entitled to British nationality. He moved to the United Kingdom in 1960, where he remained until 1985 when business interests took him to Florida. Maharaj was dissatisfied with the handling of his business affairs in Florida by his associate Derrick Moo Young and his son Duane, to the extent that he filed a civil lawsuit against them.

In October 1986, the Moo Youngs were shot to death in a Miami hotel suite. Krishna Maharaj was charged with the murders and brought to trial in October 1987. On the third day of the trial, the presiding judge was arrested on charges of bribery in an unrelated case. A substitute judge was called in, and the trial proceeded. Maharaj was convicted of the murders, and by a narrow vote of 7-5, the jury recommended a sentence of death for the murder of Duane Moo Young.

In 1996, the Supreme Court of Florida granted an evidentiary hearing to resolve claims of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. The court also expressed concern that the presiding judge at an earlier appeals proceeding had been the supervisor of the assistant state attorneys who had prosecuted Maharaj at trial.

Although his conviction was confirmed at an evidentiary hearing in September 1997, Maharaj's death sentence was overturned. The appellate court found that the trial judge had erred by asking the prosecution to prepare an order sentencing Maharaj to death before the sentencing hearing had even begun.

New evidence has come to light which undermines the reliability of the prosecution's case and casts considerable doubt on the conviction itself. Defence attorneys maintain that evidence was withheld which would have shown that, contrary to the state's theory, a number of other individuals had motives for murdering the Moo Youngs. Evidence was not presented at trial which would have established an alibi for Maharaj, who claims to have been 40 miles away at the time of the murders.

Maharaj reportedly was not told when arrested of his right to notify the British consulate, nor was the consulate informed of the arrest. This dual violation of international law has also been raised on appeal. Separate amicus curiae briefs have been filed by members of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the European Parliament as well as by the Bar of England and Wales Human Rights Committee, outlining their concerns that Maharaj's trial fell below internationally accepted standards and calling for a new trial.

Three of these 'friend of the court' briefs also submit that the length of time Maharaj has spent on death row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment or inhuman and degrading treatment.

Krishna Maharaj is reported to suffer from diabetes and heart disease.


British millionaire's appeal for clemency denied

Friday, June 6, 2008

TALLAHASSEE -- More than 20 years ago, British millionaire Krishna Maharaj was convicted of the murder of two men in Miami, a crime he maintains that he did not commit.

On Thursday, in Tallahassee, he lost his final chance to be set free.

Maharaj was convicted of killing a father and a son in a Miami hotel room in 1986. Not only does he insists that he didn't do it, he also says the trial was botched. The British government supports Maharaj's version of the events and pleaded with the Florida state clemency board to release him.

The families of Derrick and Dwayne Moo Young also pleaded with the clemency board, but they asked to keep Maharaj behind bars.

"Please, we are begging you to keep him locked away so that we can be assured that he will not hurt or harm anyone else's family, as he has destroyed not only our family, but his own," said Shaula Ann Moo Young Nagel, the daughter and sister of the victims.

On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Crist announced the board's decision.

"I would deny the application," he said.

The clemency board's decision marked the end of Maharaj's two decade-long journey through the court system. The case and decision has attracted international attention.

British Member of Parliament Peter Bottomley described the involvement of some of his government's top-ranking officials in this case as "very, very unusual." They have been in touch Gov. Crist, telling him that Maharaj is innocent and asking for his release and his return to the United Kingdom.

"I care about justice," Bottomley said. "That means reducing the number of crimes, catching criminals, and when there's significant doubt over the fairness of a conviction or the process that led to it, or evidence which was not frankly considered, that people should be prepared to do that."

Bottomley said he is confident that Maharaj got a fair hearing in front of the clemency board, and that there are no hard feelings. He also said that there may be a way to appeal the ruling, but he isn't sure how to do it.


Ex-racehorse owner Maharaj to spend life in Florida jail after plea for clemency denied

05th June 2008

A Briton convicted of a double murder he says he did not commit will spend the rest of his life in jail after officials in Florida denied his request for clemency  last night.

Former self-made millionaire Krishna Maharaj, who was once the second biggest racehorse owner in the UK, has always protested his innocence over the Florida murders and the British government supports his claims.

He spent 15 years on Death Row before his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2002.

Yesterday, Florida governor Charlie Crist and the state clemency board denied Maharaj's request for clemency, his last hope of freedom.

The family of the murder victims, Derrick and Duane Moo Young, pleaded tearfully with the panel to deny 68-year-old Maharaj's request.

But hundreds of supporters, including several high-profile UK politicians, are convinced Maharaj is innocent.

Conservative MP Peter Bottomley, a supporter of Maharaj, said: 'Everyone knows about Louise Woodward, who was white, female and young. Mr Maharaj is black, British and old and does not have the glamour. But his case is even stronger.'

Former attorney general Sir Nicholas Lyell has said: 'There are real reasons for thinking that he may have been framed; that crucial evidence about the principal prosecution witness may not have been disclosed - indeed, was not disclosed; that he was inadequately represented; that the case was handled by a judge who in the middle of the case was arrested and subsequently disbarred.

'And that there are real reasons to think that this is a grave miscarriage of justice, which one would hope can be put right.'

Maharaj was sentenced to 25 years to life for killing Derrick Moo Young, and given a death sentence for the murder of Moo Young's son Duane, 23, in a Miami hotel. This was commuted to life imprisonment in 2002.

Maharaj's case has attracted major political support - 300 politicians have signed a petition calling for him to face a retrial, and senior members of Gordon Brown's cabinet,  including Jack Straw and Harriet Harman, have backed the cause.

The Foreign Office spent months looking in the conviction of the Londoner, and concluded that there was 'prima facie evidence of a miscarriage of justice'.

Five alibi witnesses place Maharaj 30 miles from the murder - but not one was called to testify at his trial. The trial itself saw the judge led away in handcuffs on the third day for taking bribes in another case.

Now penniless and suffering from diabetes, Maharaj was once a self-made millionaire living in Peckham, south London. He started out driving trucks before setting up a successful fruit-importing business that funded his horse-racing obsession. One of his horses finished ahead of the Queen's to win at Royal Ascot in 1974.


Briton's final US murders appeal

BBC News

Thursday, 9 August 2007

A former London businessman who has spent 21 years in prison in Florida is making a final appeal for clemency.

Krishna Maharaj, 68, was convicted of murdering a business associate and his son in a Miami hotel in 1986.

Several witnesses have come forward to say Maharaj was 30 miles away at the time of the murders.

Maharaj's case is supported by the Foreign Office and several cabinet ministers including Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

Maharaj spent 15 years on Florida's Death Row before his sentence was commuted to life in 2002.

Now he has one last chance of freedom by seeking clemency from the state of Florida.

Alibi witnesses

Maharaj has always protested his innocence, and five alibi witnesses have placed him 30 miles from the murders.

Speaking from his prison in mid-Florida ahead of his appeal, Maharaj said: "I feel like David fighting Goliath for 20 years with the confidence that God will make sure justice prevails in the end.

"If not, I would have died in here."

Political support for him has grown steadily back in the UK.

Some 300 politicians have called for a retrial and now the UK government itself is calling for clemency.

This follows a lengthy investigation by the Foreign Office which found prima facie evidence of a miscarriage of justice.


Questions over Briton's murder conviction

By Tim Samuels - BBC News

Monday, 16 October 2006

A last-ditch plea for clemency is being prepared on behalf of a British businessman held for 20 years in a Florida jail.

The move follows unsuccessful attempts to win a retrial in spite of evidence suggesting his conviction of a double murder was a miscarriage of justice.

Krishna Maharaj, a 67-year-old businessman from London, was convicted for the 1986 murder of a Jamaican father and son in a hotel room in Miami, Florida and has already served 20 years in a US jail.

Maharaj - who spent the bulk of his time in prison on Death Row - has always protested his innocence.

Two years ago a Newsnight investigation unearthed new information that raised doubts about the reliability of the two key prosecution witnesses, whose testimonies were critical in putting Maharaj behind bars.

Alibi witnesses

The investigation also traced one new alibi witness, and asks questions about why five other alibi witnesses - all placing Maharaj 30 miles away from the scene of the crime at the time of the murders - were never called to testify.

The findings suggest Krishna Maharaj is the victim of a miscarriage of justice and add credibility to theories that he was framed for the murders.

One of the prosecution witnesses, Jamaican Tino Geddes, originally provided an alibi for Krishna Maharaj but changed his story on the eve of the trial in 1987 to say that the Londoner had planned the murders.

But now Tino Geddes has revealed to the BBC information which raises questions over his reliability as a witness.

At the time of the trial, Geddes was himself facing a criminal trial for bringing ammunition into Jamaica from the US; a charge which could carry a jail sentence.

The Maharaj case prosecutors flew to Jamaica and assisted Geddes in the case.

Tino Geddes also revealed that the authorities helped him with a charge for driving under the influence of alcohol - and that the prosecutors went to a lap-dancing bar with their star witness.

"If the jury had really got the story about how Tino was getting favours from the government it would have made them look very differently at Tino," said Maharaj's British defence lawyer Clive Stafford Smith.

Lie detector test

Further doubts emerged about the second key prosecution witness, Neville Butler, who was the only apparent eyewitness to the crime, and also critical to Krishna Maharaj's conviction.

Maharaj's defence team claim that Neville Butler failed part of his lie-detector test (Maharaj passed his) and that his account is riddled with inconsistencies, such as changing versions of who booked the hotel room where the murders took place.

In the Bahamas, the BBC spoke to a tour operator, Prince Ellis, who says he saw Butler on the day of the murders.

Prince Ellis told Newsnight, he spent the evening with Butler and another man Eddie Dames.

Mr Ellis claims Butler had blood on his shirt, had never mentioned Krishna Maharaj's name once during the evening, and was told by Mr Dames to get his "story straight" before going to the police.

Mr Ellis also says Butler implied that more than one person was involved in the shooting - contrary to his account in court that Maharaj had acted alone.

Krishna Maharaj has always maintained that at the time of the murders in Miami, he was 30 miles away in Fort Lauderdale.

Indeed, all the five alibi witnesses have stated that he was in Fort Lauderdale at the time - yet not one of them was called to testify at his trial.

Judge arrested

But this was no ordinary trial: the judge was arrested and led away in handcuffs after three days on suspicion of taking bribes in another case.

During its investigation, Newsnight traced one new alibi witnesses, a woman who then spoke out for the first time.

She said she saw Krishna Maharaj in Fort Lauderdale twice during the time when the state says the murders occurred in Miami - between 11am and noon on 16 October 1986.

When asked whether it was feasible that sometime between 11am and noon Krishna Maharaj could have been in downtown Miami committing murder, she replied: "No, it's not. No, it's not. Absolutely not."

The BBC also tracked down Adam Hosein in Trinidad who Maharaj's defence lawyers think has some serious questions to answer in this case.

A former employee of Hosein, George Abchal, claims that on the day of the murders Mr Hosein said he was going to the hotel where the killings occurred. Mr Abchal also claims a gun and silencer were missing from Mr Hosein's drawer and that night he told him he had "eliminated" a few people.

The man has never been questioned by the police in relation to this case.

Re-trial battle

Some 300 British politicians from all the main parties supported his quest for a retrial - including a former UK attorney general.

The former Attorney General Sir Nicholas Lyell QC has been one of those advocating a retrial.

Sir Nicholas, who for five years was the government's chief legal officer, told the BBC at the time of its investigation: "There are real reasons for thinking that he may have been framed, that crucial evidence about the principal prosecution witness may not have been disclosed, indeed was not disclosed, that he was inadequately represented, that the case was handled by a judge who in the middle of the case was arrested and subsequently disbarred.

"And that there are real reasons for all those reasons to think that this is a grave miscarriage of justice which one would hope can be put right."

But for all the evidence suggesting a miscarriage of justice, Krishna Maharaj has been unable to win a re-trial, and last week the Supreme Court refused to take the case, exhausting his legal avenues.

A plea for Clemency is being prepared for the Florida Governor Jeb Bush by Maharaj's political and legal supporters.

Four years ago, after spending more than 15 years on Death Row, his sentence was commuted to 50 years in jail - because of judicial impropriety in his original trial.


Death Row Briton spared execution

BBC News

Thursday, 28 March, 2002

Former millionaire Krishna Maharaj, the Briton who has spent 15 years on death row in the United States, will not be executed.

A jury of 12 in Florida voted by 11 to one to reduce his death sentence to life imprisonment.

Maharaj was placed on death row after being convicted of killing two men in a Miami hotel room in 1986.

Irregularities in his original trial led to the re-sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

His defence team now hope to appeal further to the Florida Supreme Court for a full retrial for the 63-year-old.

Afterwards Maharaj said: "I'm very happy today with the verdict, it causes us to go back to Federal Court.

"We filed in Federal Court last year but the state delayed - but we're there now."

Maharaj, a former banana importer, had been sentenced to death in Florida's electric chair for the shooting of Duane Moo Young and to life in prison for the death of Duane's father Derrick.

UK support

His defence lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith said Maharaj will not be eligible for parole for more than 50 years.

However the Londoner has always stated his innocence and his campaign to be released has already been supported by up to 300 politicians in the UK.

"What happened today doesn't make any difference to someone who is innocent," Mr Stafford-Smith said.

"He is very glad to have this behind him."

In pronouncing sentence, Florida Judge Jerald Bagley said he had no reason to override the jury's recommendation.


Fresh hope for death row Briton

BBC News

Monday, 18 March, 2002

A Londoner on death row in Florida faces a re-sentencing hearing after it was found there were irregularities in his trial.

Krishna Maharaj, who has lived under the threat of a death sentence for 14 years, was convicted of a double murder of two Jamaicans at a Florida hotel.

The 62-year-old, who is now in poor health, has always maintained his innocence and his campaign to be released has been supported by about 300 politicians in the UK.

Maharaj, from Peckham, was charged with murder after businessmen Derrick Moo Young and his son Duane were shot dead in the DuPont Plaza hotel in Miami in October 1986.

Business failed

The prosecution claimed Maharaj confronted Mr Moo Young to demand $600,000 which had allegedly been defrauded from his relatives in Trinidad.

However the former fruit importer denied the killings, saying the two were victims of Miami's drugs underworld.

Maharaj's case was taken up by Birmingham-based human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, who has been honoured for his work on behalf of convicts on death row.

Maharaj and his wife, Marita, moved to the US in the mid-1980s but his property investment company failed, leaving him penniless.



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