Maharaj's Hearing on Plea for Freedom Ends - NBC 6 South Florida

Maharaj's Hearing on Plea for Freedom Ends



    Final Day of Hearing as Maharaj Seeks His Freedom

    NBC 6's Laura Rodriguez wraps up the final day of testimony as Krishna Maharaj looks to gain his freedom after nearly 30 years in jail for a double murder. (Published Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014)

    Thursday marked the final day of a hearing that could free Krishna Maharaj after he's spent almost 30 years in jail for the 1986 double-murder of Derrick and Duane Moo Young.

    Maharaj was a self-made millionaire who invested in real estate and horses and traded produce. He was in Miami in 1986 for his newspaper business and said that's what landed him inside room 1215 at the Dupont Plaza Hotel.

    Maharaj said he was in the city to meet Eddie Dames to talk about distributing his newspaper in the Bahamas. Maharaj said Dames never showed up, so he left the hotel for another meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

    Prosecutors said what Maharaj was doing was setting up a false meeting with Derrick Moo Young. In the 1987 trial, a witness said Moo Young unexpectedly brought his son Duane, and once both were inside room 1215, Maharaj killed them.

    Prosecutors said Maharaj killed the Moo Young's because they owed him more than $400 million.

    The evidentiary hearing hinges on defense evidence that points the finger for the murders at former Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Ecobar. Maharaj's attorney, Ben Kuehne, said written statements from people associated with the Medellin cartel show the Moo Young's were killed because they were "stealing from Escobar."

    Kuehne pointed to testimony from the drug lord's former pilot as well as testimony from a former Miami Police Officer who said he was told by another police officer the cartel was behind the murder.

    "The circumstances of this crime were not as presented to the jury by the prosecution," Kuehne said Thursday.

    Kuehne said the jury in 1987 also wasn't shown insurance documents that suggested the Moo Young's were involved in money-laundering. Prosecutors countered saying all of the defense theories are simply speculation.

    "I haven't heard one thing from the defense that indicates that this is admissible evidence," prosecutor Penny Brill said Thursday.

    Prosecutors brought up former Miami-Dade prosecutor John Kastrenakes earlier this week who maintained that all evidence in the case points to Maharaj.

    "He rented the hotel room in Eddie Dame's name, identified in a photo lineup as doing that, asked other people to lie for him about where he was," said Kastrenakes. "When he's caught that night, he had changed his appearance and shaved his mustache and cut his hair."

    The next step for the case is for the attorneys to file their final written arguments. After that, the judge will determine a date to issue his final ruling.

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