UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ZION CLARKE, RICARDO DEFOUR, KEVON DEMERIEUX, ANDERSON STRAKER, WAYNE PIERRE, CHRISTOPHER SEALEY, and KEVIN NIXON, Defendants.

Criminal No. 06-102 (JDB)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

767 F. Supp. 2d 12

March 2, 2011, Decided

Opinion by US District Judge John D. Bates:

The indictment charges the defendants with participating in a conspiracy — beginning on or about February 1, 2005, and ending on or about April 15, 2005 — to seize and detain Balram Maharaj and his son Dinesh, in order to compel the payment of ransom money for their release, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1203.3 The evidence presented at trial showed that the conspirators’ initial plan was to kidnap 5-year old Dinesh, but that the target instead became Balram Maharaj due to complications involved with kidnapping his child. After a series of planning meetings at the Mellow Moods Bar and other locations, the kidnapping took place on April 6, 2005, at the Samaan Tree Bar. Maharaj was taken at gunpoint, forced into a waiting vehicle, and driven to a cocoa field. From there, he was taken to a forested area where he was held for seven days under the watch of two guards. During that time a series of ransom calls was made to the victim’s family, demanding $3 million Trinidad dollars — approximately $500,000 U.S. dollars — and the captors attempted to obtain “proof of life” from the victim to advance their ransom demands. During the period of captivity, Maharaj, a diabetic, did not have access to medication, and his health took a precipitous decline — he turned pale, had difficulty speaking and breathing, and began hallucinating. On April 13, 2005, Maharaj died. After his death, several co-conspirators dismembered the body with a machete, hid the body parts in two containers — a blue barrel and a white styrofoam cooler — and buried the containers.

As to defendant “Ninja”:

The evidence was sufficient to sustain Pierre’s conviction…

Gittens — a longtime friend of Pierre’s — testified that he was brought into the hostage taking conspiracy by Pierre (“Ninja“) as well, at a meeting at Pierre’s home. Trial Tr. at 3181 (June 16, 2009). Pierre initially assigned him the role of producing a stolen vehicle for use in the kidnapping (which Gittens decided not to do), and later assigned Gittens the role of ransom negotiator. Id. at 3181, 3197 (“I was told by Ninja to drive around with Jason Percival and make a ransom call $3 million to the victim’s family.”).

concluding:

the Court denies defendants’ motions for judgment of acquittal, their motions for new trial, and their motions to dismiss the case.

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