Krishna Maharaj was a powerful local newspaper publisher when he was arrested in 1986 and accused of a grisly crime: the brutal double murder of a father and son in a downtown Miami hotel room. Maharaj was convicted, butas we reported back in 2007
, the Trinidadian millionaire insisted he had been set-up.
Five years later, Maharaj's case for freedom is now looking stronger -- and stranger -- than ever. On Thursday, his lawyers filed a sensational appeal in which they claim the businessman was set-up by Colombian drug lords and Miami police officers.
Back in '86, Maharaj was accused of murdering Jamaican Derrick Moo Young, 53, and his 23-year-old son Duane, over a $400,000 dispute.
On October 16 of that year, an employee at the DuPont Plaza hotel noticed blood seeping from under the Youngs' room door. From our 2007 feature:
The room was in a shambles. Streaks of blood crossed the tile floor. Bullets, their casings strewn randomly around the suite, had torn holes in the furnishings.
On the floor a few feet away, Aparicio saw the first body. Fifty-three-year-old Jamaican Derrick Moo Young lay on his back, feet facing the door. He had been shot six times.
Upstairs the guard found Moo Young's 23-year-old son, Duane, slumped at the foot of a bed. He had been killed by a single bullet fired into his skull at close range, execution style.
Maharaj claimed that he was miles away at the time, but had been lured to the hotel room the previous day so that cops would find his fingerprints there.
In the 90-page appeal filed yesterday, however, his lawyers say that they have a sworn affidavit from an unnamed witness "who has come forward after many years" to testify that Maharaj was framed by Miami police officers.
"We have developed very solid proof that Colombian drug dealers were behind these murders and Kris was framed by Miami police," Maharaj's attorney, Clive Stafford Smith, told Reuters.
Smith claims a former Miami police officer named Peter Romero revealed back in '86 that Maharaj was framed by fellow Miami cops. Romero retired in June, however, and committed suicide two months later.
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In addition to the appeal, Maharaj also has another asset on his side that he didn't five years ago: John Grisham. The lawyer-turned-mega-author has taken up Maharaj's case.
This is a "spectacular example of a bogus conviction," Grisham said for a recent book on the case.
Read our 2007 feature for the full story on Maharaj's mind-blowing case. Or check out his full appeal at reprieve.org.