Contemporary Portrait Artist
Krishna Maharaj 2009
100 cm x 170 cm
Oil on Canvas
Death Row Florida
Conviction 1987: Commuted to Life 2002 – present day
For British businessman, Krishna, and his wife, Marita, a trip to Florida in 1986 turned into a nightmare. Convicted of the murder of a Jamaican man and his son and sentenced to death, Krishna has spent the last 25 years in prison.
A BBC news investigation has uncovered very significant evidence to support Krishna’s innocence claim. Most of this evidence has not been heard in court because of Florida’s judicial procedures, which restrict the admission of evidence not submitted at the original trial. In 2004 a judge refused Krishna’s application for a retrial, saying, "Newly discovered evidence which goes only to guilt or innocence is insufficient to warrant relief."
During the initial trial the judge was arrested for taking bribes and the replacement judge processed the death penalty order before the guilty verdict was announced.
In 2002 the death penalty conviction was commuted to life (50 years) due to irregularities in the initial trial. In 2008 Krishna lost his final plea for clemency leaving him to spend his final years in prison. This despite 300 British politicians sending a petition to State Governor, Jeb Bush, highlighting the “astonishing flaws” in the case against him.
Marita devotedly drives immense distances to visit Krishna and I joined her on one of her fortnightly visits. Meeting Krishna was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Not just because of the walls of razor wire, the intimidating guards and personal body searches. Not because of the petty ways that the guards undermine and humiliate the families but because of his sheer desperation. This proud, ex-millionaire businessman struggled to hold back his emotion. He snapped his answers to my questions and his wife’s platitudes. But gradually over 3 hours he relaxed and told us his story, eventually even laughing with us over funny incidents in his past life in England.
Kris told me that even now he could plea-bargain and receive his freedom in return for confessing his guilt, but he refuses.
“What the American’s don’t realise
is that you can’t buy character in
"Newly discovered evidence which goes only
to guilt or innocence is insufficient to warrant