Reprieve: +44 (0) 207 553 8140
For immediate release: Tue Feb 10, 2015
Jailed Florida Brit takes innocence fight to court of appeal
Briton Kris Maharaj yesterday filed notice to appeal the decision of a Florida judge who refused to grant a retrial for his 1986 conviction, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence.
Miami Judge William Thomas denied a new trial to Mr Maharaj at an evidentiary hearing held on January 9th. Judge Thomas refused to consider most of the evidence that the murders were committed by the Colombian Cartels. Mr Maharaj now has 50 days to file the full brief appealing Judge Thomas’ decision.
Mr Maharaj was convicted for the murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young, father and son, in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in downtown Miami in 1986. He has always maintained his innocence and, at the hearing in January, substantial evidence was presented to the court that the murders were in fact committed by Colombian drug cartels.
Kris Maharaj, immediately after Judge Thomas’ judgement was given, said: “This is a body blow, enormously dispiriting. More than anything, it is dreadful for my wonderful wife Marita, who has stood by me all this time. I would have given up and just died if it were not for her. But I will not stop fighting for justice until they do carry me out of this terrible place in a coffin.”
Clive Stafford Smith, Kris Maharaj’s long-time pro-bono lawyer and Director of Reprieve: “I am not sure there has been a more dispiriting moment in the 30 years of my career, as Kris is utterly innocent. But as he told me, we just have to keep on fighting until we get him justice.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information, please contact Clemency Wells in Reprieve’s press office: +44 207 553 8140 / clemency.wells [AT] reprieve.org.uk
2. The court document that was filed is available upon request.
This short video clip makes it clear that Kris Maharaj’s lead defense attorney threw his case.
That Kris is no longer on death row isn’t the favorable sign that one might think; taking known innocents off death row is a good ole Florida boy ploy to get them out of the limelight … it happened to another incarcerated innocent that I advocate for, Crosley “Poppa” Green. He’s still not a match to the original eyewitness’ identification, just one of many reasons he should be free. Prosecutors pointed to the DNA as conclusive, even though Mito testing only identifies maternal lineage. Crosley’s brother had indeed driven the truck involved in the homicide on an earlier date, but Crosley hadn’t; he can’t drive a stick shift, let alone drive a stick shift and hold a gun on two people. The absence of fingerprints was rather telling, too.
If the appeals court Kris’ case goes to is anything like Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals, it is likely that Kris’ appeal will be PCA’d, like Crosley’s was.
“Per Curiam Afirmed” translates to “You’re Anonymously Screwed” in American English, and even if the King’s English doesn’t offer a saner translation, now is the time for David Cameron to speak up, insistently, on Kris’ behalf. Any Brit that vacations, winters or works here in Florida has much more to fear than a sunburn. The simple truth is that Florida routinely frames innocents. If falsely accused of a crime, whether one has nothing to spend on his own defense, like Crosley, or millions to spend, like Kris, justice will be hard – if not impossible – to come by.