UPDATE: Reprieve have sent through a request to send a message of support to Kris and this can be accessed here. (24 September 2019)
We report – via Reprieve – the good news that a Briton held for 33 years in Florida, has gained the chance of release about 4 years after it was proved he was innocent. We have received an email from them which is reproduced in full below:
I’ve [Clive Stafford Smith] just had some incredibly exciting news on the case of Kris Maharaj, the Brit who has already spent 33 unjust years in Florida’s prison system for a murder he did not commit. Kris will finally have an evidentiary hearing on October 17th. The meaning of that might not be initially obvious, but I assure you it’s a very significant development. It’s one I have been pushing for, for a long time. It means that Kris finally has the chance to prove in a US federal court that he should not have been deprived of his liberty for more than three decades, let alone have been sentenced to death.
I’ve been involved in more than 400 capital cases over the years, and Kris’ is the greatest injustice of them all. Evidence uncovered in 2014 proved beyond doubt that Kris is not guilty of the murders for which he has been imprisoned. The state trial court nevertheless refused to order a new trial at the time. That’s why I’ve been pushing for a Federal evidentiary hearing.
When I took on this case back in 1993, I had no grey hairs. Twenty-six years on, you’d be hard pushed to find a hair on my head that isn’t grey or white – and a fair number of them have been caused by the traumas of Kris’ case. But just imagine the impact of the last 33 years on Kris and his wife Marita. It is hard to believe that we could get justice after all the crushing disappointments we’ve been through over the years, but perhaps – just perhaps – Kris will finally come home for his first Christmas in more than three decades.
The possibility of justice would never have arisen were it not for the kindness of all his supporters. Both Kris and Marita have said their hope wouldn’t have lasted this long without the support they get from the Reprieve community.
It’s going to be a busy month ahead as I prepare for this hearing, but the Campaigns team at Reprieve will be in touch to update you in the run-up to the 17th October. Thank you, as always, for your support of Reprieve so we can help many people like Kris and Marita.
We reviewed on these pages, a book, Injustice, on this case by Stafford Smith making the point how unsound the American system is. So Kris is likely to walk free but it is important to bear in mind that he might have been executed by now. The book goes into remorseless detail about the inadequacies of the American trial system. We are conditioned by Hollywood films and TV about how heroic it is but for the poor, the system is rotten. The police do not have to release evidence to the defence (defense) which helps the defendant, a situation which happened in the UK before PACE was passed.
This is an uplifting story but tragically, he has had to spend over 3 decades in gaol for a crime he did not commit.
A search of his name comes up with a photograph of him with the caption ‘Kris Maharaj, murderer’.