Kidnap/murder of US citizen …”DPP DROPS CASE AGAINST ACCUSED”

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Kenneth Pierre was considered very lucky to not have been extradited to the United States to face trial for the kidnap/murder of US citizen, Balram “Balo” Maharaj.

When extradition papers came for 14 Trinidadians, Kenneth Pierre was not on that list. But he was charged in Trinidad for the kidnap and murder. His brother Wayne was not so lucky. He was extradited and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On Monday, Kenneth Pierre became lucky as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) dropped murder and kidnap charges which were pending in Trinidad.

The matter was called before Justice Maria Wilson in the Port-of-Spain High Court.

DPP Roger Gaspard filed notices of discontinuance as his office no longer wished to prosecute Pierre.

But Kenneth did not walk out of the court house. He was immediately taken to back to the prison as he still has a pending trial for another kidnapping and murder in 2006.

Gaspard’s move brings the prosecution of Maharaj’s murder to an end as other people accused of the crime, including Maharaj’s wife Doreen Alexander-Durity, have either been extradited to the US or freed.

Maharaj, 62, who had served in the US Army in Vietnam, was vacationing at his relatives’ home at Chandy Lane, El Socorro, San Juan, when he was abducted from the Samaan Tree Bar in Aranjuez, on April 6, 2005.

Before his death, Maharaj had received a US$4.5 million settlement in a workplace injury claim in New York.

A $3 million ransom was reportedly demanded for his safe release. However, on January 8, 2006, police recovered his dismembered body which was placed in a two bins and buried a forested area at Grand Curacaye, Santa Cruz.

Pierre was among 14 men, many of them former soldiers, arrested in connection with the murder. Jason Percival, Russel Joseph, Winston Gittens, Leon Nurse, Ricardo De Four, Zion Clarke, Kevon Demerieux, Anderson Straker, Wayne Pierre, Christopher Sealy, Kevin Nixon, Alexander-Durity, and David Suchit were extradited to Washington, DC, to face trail in a US District Court.

Percival, Joseph, Gittens and Nurse pleaded guilty to being involved in Maharaj’s kidnapping and were each sentenced to a just over ten years in prison. They have since been released from the US prison and deported quietly to Trinidad.

All the others, except Suchit, pleaded not guilty were eventually convicted by a jury and given life sentences. Suchit was acquitted by the jury and deported to Trinidad.

Maharaj’s ex-wife, with whom he has a son, was extradited to the US.

Alexander-Durity, who US law enforcement agents described as the mastermind behind the crime, pleaded guilty and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

In March 2014, the DPP’s office also discontinued the case against former Special Forces soldier Ricardo Stephenson.

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KENNETH PIERRE, LEFT, AND RICARDO STEPHENSON
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BALRAM “BALO” MAHARAJ 

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