Michael Flynn, an ex-Miami cop doing 35 years in prison for drug dealing and kidnapping, went to bat Monday for a convicted British murderer who insists he was framed by police.
The ex-cop took to the stand to claim that Krishna Maharaj was “hooked up,” or wrongfully implicated, for a 1986 double murder at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in downtown Miami. His source for the information: Another police officer who has since died.
Maharaj’s case has been championed for years by the British press and politicians. Maharaj is serving a life prison sentence after his conviction at trial in 1987, a case that has consistently been upheld by appellate courts, including the Florida Supreme Court.
Flynn on Monday suggested that the Colombian drug cartel was behind the slayings of Derrick Moo Young and Moo Young’s son, Duane, at the Dupont.
“A lot of the drug dealers had a lot of influence on the police department,” Flynn said.
British lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, who authored a book about the case, and Miami lawyer Ben Kuehne insist then-Colombian Cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar ordered Derrick Moo Young’s slaying because the man had been stealing money from him during a money-laundering operation.
The defense is asking for a new trial.
Prosecutors say the theory is nothing more than hearsay and speculation — especially because the cartel back then openly flaunted its ability to kill its enemies and send a message. At his original trial, jurors heard that Maharaj, now 75, killed the men because of a long-running business dispute.
Fingerprints in the hotel room tied Maharaj to the scene, as did an eyewitness who testified to seeing him pull the trigger. Witnesses also told jurors that Maharaj, at a Denny’s dinner after the homicide, tried to concoct an alibi.
Flynn, who appeared in a red prison jumpsuit, will continue his testimony Wednesday. His story could be refuted by the possible testimony of another prison inmate, William Hawley, who has served as a jailhouse informant in numerous cases.
Hawley last month told investigators that Maharaj, in prison, confided he was looking to pay ex-Miami cops in prison to draft affidavits saying he was framed. Hawley claimed he came forward to authorities only after seeing Maharaj’s case profile on CNN.
Among other witnesses who testified Monday:
▪ A former cartel pilot going by the pseudonym John Brown claimed that Escobar, in the 1980s, confided that he had ordered “los chinos” to be killed at a hotel for stealing from him. Brown did not know the identities of the men.
“If you stole from him, the penalty was death,” Brown said, adding prosecutors “got the wrong guy.”
An older man with graying hair and a Southern twang, Brown refused to testify unless the media agreed to not take his photo. Last week, prosecutors told the judge that the smuggler had voluntarily left the witness protection program, testified openly in numerous trials and had appeared in the press.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas ordered the Miami Herald not to take his photo after the man testified in chambers that he was still scared of the long-slain cartel bosses’ henchmen.
Two of Escobar’s most infamous pilots were Mickey Munday, who frequently speaks to the media and did not resemble the man on the stand, and Jimmy Ellard, who once testified that he gave Escobar the idea of blowing a jetliner out of the sky in 1989.
▪ Henry Cuervo, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent, also testified that in the 1980s, “there was a lot of corruption within law enforcement.” He admitted, on cross examination, that he never heard of the Moo Youngs and knew of no cases involving police framing people on behalf of the cartel.