British Ex-Millionaire Fights for Freedom

Krishna Maharaj went from the high life to a life sentence for a crime he might not have committed

"I imagine they felt obliged; they realized with my evidence they had their man," he postulates. Geddes also claims the pair helped him overcome a DUI charge, and that while the attorneys were in Jamaica, they accompanied their star witness to a lap-dancing bar.

Despite Geddes's damning U-turn, alibi witnesses swore Maharaj was in Fort Lauderdale when the Moo Youngs were shot. How did the prosecution convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt these witnesses were all lying? They didn't need to.

Maharaj's original defense lawyer, Eric Hendon — now a Miami-Dade County Court judge — never called them to testify. (In the 20 years since the murders, these witnesses have either died or moved away, or could not be located.)

Koren Shadmi
Koren Shadmi

"When Eric stood up to begin the defense portion of the trial," says Petrillo, who was seated next to Maharaj at the time, "he simply said, 'The defense rests.' The prosecutors' jaws dropped, their mouths fell open, and their eyes got as big as saucers. I thought they were going to fall off their chairs.

"Kris was holding my arm so tight I thought he was going to draw blood."

What would make an alleged accomplished attorney fail to call alibi witnesses to testify in a capital murder case?

Hendon declined an interview with New Times, but he told an appeals court the witnesses had retracted their statements.

The assertion makes Petrillo laugh. "They didn't retract their statements, no way." Swiping his spectacles down his nose, he rubs his eyes. "I talked to those people. There is no way Kris was in Miami when the Moo Youngs were shot. No way.

"I felt so ashamed that day," he says.

During Maharaj's trial, the prosecution presented Derrick and Duane Moo Young as an honest, hardworking father and son. Their tax returns showed an annual income of $20,000. But documents found in their briefcase the day they were shot dead — which Petrillo claims Miami Police Lieutenant Burhmaster withheld and, therefore, were not presented during the trial — suggest the Jamaicans were not what they appeared.

"I went to the evidence room and I told Burhmaster I wanted to see the briefcase," says Petrillo, who claims he was given the briefcase — empty. "Burhmaster told me there was no evidentiary value to the contents and he had returned them to the family."

The contents of the briefcase were miraculously recovered years later. What Burhmaster referred to as "just a bunch of papers," actually included one-million-dollar life insurance policies underwritten just three weeks before the murders, and $1.5 billion in loans. A senior manager from Ernst & Young later studied the documents and concluded it "was difficult to rationalize how the Moo Youngs could have become involved in legitimate business dealings of this magnitude." They were, she deduced, either selling drugs or laundering money.

According to the defense, the briefcase contained evidence that the Moo Youngs were heavily involved with drug traffickers from Colombia's Medellín cartel. "It is a shame to have to speak ill of the dead, but unfortunately there were a large number of people who had a motive to kill them," Maharaj's defense team told an appeals court two years ago. They then drew particular attention to another Trinidadian native living in South Florida at the time of the killings, Adam Hosein.

Hosein — who is believed to be residing in his homeland but could not be located for an interview — owned a garage in Broward County. He also knew Maharaj from England and bore such a striking resemblance to the Londoner that he reportedly assumed his identity to get into horse races. Hosein was also a business associate of the Moo Youngs, and allegedly owed them a substantial amount of money.

"I have a sworn statement from a George Abchal in Fort Lauderdale, who used to work at Hosein's garage," says Petrillo. "It was notarized, signed, and tape-recorded. He said Hosein kept a gun and a silencer in the drawer of the desk, and on the morning of the murders, he said, Hosein took the gun and left." The gun, Abchal claimed, was a 9mm Smith & Wesson, the same type of weapon used to kill the Moo Youngs.

Says Petrillo: "Ask yourself 'Why is it that nobody heard anything?'"

Abchal also said that days before the Moo Youngs were killed, Hosein had tried to buy six kilos of cocaine from them on credit. They kicked him out because he allegedly owed them too much money.

Court documents show Hosein also had power of attorney over one of the Moo Youngs' two Panamanian corporations. And he placed a call to Room 1215 the day of the murders.

Hosein came from a notoriously violent family. In a celebrated 1970 trial at London's Old Bailey, Hosein's brothers, Arthur and Nizam, were convicted of murdering the spouse of a top newspaper executive. They had planned to kidnap the wife of publishing tycoon Rupert Murdoch but seized the wrong woman. The duo reportedly chopped up the victim and fed her remains to pigs. The case became so infamous that the Hosein brothers were featured in the Chamber of Horrors at London's Madame Tussauds wax museum.

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