Krishna Maharaj

Dade County, Florida
Date of Crime:  October 16, 1986

Krishna Maharaj was sentenced to death for the murders of Derrick Moo Young, 53, and his son, Duane, 23. The victims, both Jamaicans, had been fatally shot in a room at the Dupont Plaza Hotel. Maharaj, a Trinidad born British national, owned and operated the Caribbean Times, a newspaper which catered to the West Indian community. Maharaj has six alibi witnesses that can testify that at the time of the killings, he was 30 miles away at a Fort Lauderdale business meeting. An investigator working for the defence claims that Maharaj's lawyer was threatened just before the trial – at which he called none of the witnesses. All six alibi witnesses were willing to testify.

Three days into Maharaj's trial the judge, Howard Gross, was arrested on bribery charges relating to another case and subsequently debarred. Maharaj's lawyer failed to demand a new trial. Maharaj claims that the same judge tried to solicit a $50,000 bribe from him before his trial got underway - via an Assistant State Attorney sent to see him in jail (whose visit to Maharaj is noted in the records).

The victims were portrayed in court as an honest, retired businessman and his son. Derrick, the father, was shown as having a $20,000 annual income. What the jury never heard about was that he and his son had just taken out $1 million life insurance policies - and documents in their briefcase mentioned loans of up to $5 million. An Ernst & Young account manager who examined their documents concluded the victims were either selling drugs or planning to launder money.

Neville Butler, the prosecution's only eyewitness who claimed to have seen Maharaj commit the murders, failed part of his lie detector test - and then went on to change his version of the events about who booked the hotel room. By contrast, Maharaj passed his polygraph with flying colors and has never deviated from his original account.

Butler was seen right after the murders in the back of a car in Miami. He had blood on his own shirt – and looked like he has been in a scuffle. He told those with him in the car that: “They went crazy and started shooting.” This statement contradicts the prosecution theory that there was one killer, Maharaj, who acted alone. In the hours after the murder Butler never mentioned Maharaj's name to those he was with, and was also told by another man present to “get his story straight” before calling the police.

In 2002, Maharaj's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. The UK Government has supported calls for a retrial of Maharaj on grounds that it was not informed that Maharaj, a British national, was facing capital charges and thus was unable to provide assistance, a violation of U.S. treaty obligations and international law.  [6/08]


References:  WebsiteBrief, 1992 Appeal, 1996 Appeal, 2000 Appeal, 2002 Appeal, 2005 Appeal

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Southern Florida Cases