Kris Maharaj, Brit and former billionaire racehorse owner, was sentenced to death in 1987 for two murders he didn’t commit – the killing of father and son Derrick and Duane Moo Young in a Miami hotel.
Kris came very close to dying in Florida’s electric chair, but Reprieve’s work saved him from his death sentence. He will now be eligible for parole aged 101 – a death sentence in all but name.
The real story of these murders was uncovered after years of investigation by various fantastic Reprieve volunteers working alongside Reprieve’s Clive Stafford Smith, Kris’s lawyer and friend for 24 years. Clive discovered that the Moo Youngs were involved in laundering billions of dollars for Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar, and that the murders were actually carried out by the cartels after Derrick and Duane lost or stole some of the money that they were laundering.
Kris has been granted a new hearing where new evidence of his innocence can finally be presented before the courts. We continue to work on Kris’s case ahead of the new hearing, in the hope that we can finally prove his innocent and end this injustice.
Here are 7 unbelievable facts about Kris’s case:
1. Drug Cartel members admitted to the crimes
Five drug cartel associates, including one of Pablo Escobar’s chief lieutenants, have given statements admitting that they, not Kris, were responsible for the murders. The court ruled that they presented “compelling” accounts that “independently corroborate one another’s […] All five individuals’ stories reflect that the Moo Youngs were killed by the Cartel.”
2. Known cartel assassin was staying in the opposite room
The only other resident on the twelfth floor of the hotel was in Room 1214, across the hall from where the murders took place. He was from Colombia, and there was a blood smear on his door. The lead detective simply said he was “legit” – even though (unknown to the defence) he had just been indicted for membership in the Cartel.
3. Alabi witnesses not called
Kris’s original lawyer failed to call the six alibi witnesses who placed Kris 30 miles away from the scene.
4. Lie detectors and lies
Prosecutors told the judge the State’s key witness had passed a lie detector test, when he in fact had failed. He has changed his story several times and committed perjury in six court cases. Kris, on the other hand, passed his polygraph.
The State’s other key witness, who originally supported Kris’s alibi, changed his testimony only after the prosecutors helped him get off a possible life sentence in Jamaica.
The original judge in Kris’s case was arrested on the third day of the trial for soliciting bribes, ironically from a law enforcement officer posing as a cartel member. The second judge conspired secretly with the prosecutors to draw up the execution order before even listening to the evidence at the judicial sentencing hearing.
7. Red Flags
In court, a retired DEA special agent pointed out the various ‘red flags’ in the police investigation at the time, and agreed that these pointed to the fact that the murders were the work of Colombian drug cartels.