Justice Severed

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Hosein — who is believed to be residing in his homeland but could not be located for an interview — owned a garage in Broward County. He also knew Maharaj from England and bore such a striking resemblance to the Londoner that he reportedly assumed Maharaj's identity to get into horse races. Hosein was also a business associate of the Moo Youngs and allegedly owed them a substantial amount of money.

"I have a sworn statement from a George Abchal in Fort Lauderdale, who used to work at Hosein's garage," Petrillo says. "It was notarized, signed, and tape-recorded. He said Hosein kept a gun and a silencer in the drawer of the desk, and on the morning of the murder, he said Hosein took the gun and left." The gun, Abchal claimed, was a Smith & Wesson, identical to the weapon used to kill the Moo Youngs.

Says Petrillo: "Ask yourself, 'Why is it that nobody heard anything?' "

Abchal also said that days before the Moo Youngs were killed, Hosein had tried to buy six kilograms of cocaine from them on credit. They declined because he allegedly owed them too much money. Court documents show that Hosein also had power of attorney over one of the Moo Youngs' two Panamanian corporations and that Hosein had placed a call to room 1215 the day of the murders. But police never investigated Hosein in connection with the Moo Youngs.

Another potential player, Jaime Mejías, a Colombian importer/exporter from Medellín who rented room 1214, across the hall from 1215, was linked to Hosein, documents show. "I questioned him," Burhmaster retorts, explaining how he chatted with Mejías from the doorway to his suite. Burhmaster says that he peered inside the room without ever entering and that "everything seemed fine." Mejías was ruled out as a suspect, according to Burhmaster, because he "seemed legit." Burhmaster never verified Mejías' alibi, nor did he take his fingerprints or ask him to explain the bloodstain on the door frame of his room.

Immediately following the murders, after occupying an office on the sixth floor of the DuPont Plaza for more than seven years, Mejías disappeared. He was never seen again.

Conservative British Member of Parliament Peter Bottomley gave up his seat at Princess Diana's 1997 funeral in Westminster Abbey to appear before a Florida appeals court on behalf of Krishna Maharaj.

He is one of about 300 British politicians who have since signed a petition calling for a retrial of the Londoner, a list that includes some high-ranking members of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's cabinet.

Despite the support, in 2004, Miami magistrate Judge William C. Turnoff rejected Maharaj's request, stating that "newly discovered evidence which goes only to guilt or innocence is insufficient to warrant relief." Last year, after the Florida Supreme Court refused to hear his case, Maharaj ran out of legal options.

Marita, Maharaj's Portuguese-born wife, remains in Florida, away from European family and friends, steadfast in her devotion. For the 15 years her husband was on death row, she regularly made the 700-mile roundtrip to the prison in Starke, northeast of Gainesville. Today, she lives in Tamarac. "I got married to Kris for life; I married him because I love him. And I will be here as long as he needs me... as long as it takes to get him out of this."

Clemency is her husband's only hope. At the mere mention of the hearing, which isn't likely to be held until 2008, Marita chuckles heartily: "I've already started packing. Believe it or not, I started boxing everything up... ready for when Kris comes home... " The rich laughter is soon replaced by a weary sigh. "I laugh, yes, but this is not a joke. We have been through hell. I just want for us to go home, to London, to live out the rest of our days quietly."

Some of Britain's top legal minds are rallying to help. In August, former British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith wrote to Crist: "The case concerns serious acts of double murder and there is a real question whether they were committed by Mr. Maharaj." A second former British attorney general, Sir Nicholas Lyell, brands the case "a serious miscarriage of justice."

"I'm away from my wife and my family...," the ailing 68-year-old Maharaj mused during a BBC interview in 2004, "for something that I didn't do and I knew nothing about. This is a nightmare. It has to end."

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Joanne Green