The extradition proceedings for a Kenner man wanted in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme in Curaçao have been postponed, as his attorney travels to the Dutch Caribbean island trying to convince prosecutors they issued a warrant for the wrong man.
Keith Alden Kemba Godwin, 27, allegedly served as the getaway driver in the shooting death of Raikel Conception, 34, who was gunned down last year on a speedboat in Caracas Bay.
Godwin, who was arrested June 9, had been scheduled to appear for a hearing Tuesday in federal court in New Orleans. Defense attorney Martin Regan, however, requested a delay so he can finish his own investigation.
Regan flew to Curaçao — which is considered to be part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands — on Thursday and was scheduled to meet Friday morning with Gert Rip, the public prosecutor in Willemstad.
“We have a great deal of evidence we think may be helpful to clear my client, and I wanted an opportunity to do that,” Regan said moments before boarding his flight, though he declined to elaborate on details. “I believe they have some incorrect facts in the case.”
Godwin’s extradition hearing has been rescheduled for Aug. 29, Regan said.
“I am prepared to do everything legally possible to stop his extradition,” he added. “Our problem with extradition to Curaçao is that it is an extremely dangerous place to wait for trial.”
Conception was shot to death Jan. 27, 2013, on a speedboat named No Limit. Local media reported that a masked gunman approached the boat at a pier and opened fire.
Godwin, who was born in St. Kitts but had been living with a green card in Jefferson Parish, was recently implicated in the killing by Elvis Kuwas, a triggerman known as “Monster,” who has confessed to assassinating Helmin M. Wiels, a prominent member of Parliament in Curaçao, in a separate hit last year, according to court documents.
Prosecutors say they obtained a series of text messages in which Kuwas implicated himself in the Conception killing but also referred to an accomplice named “Gamba,” who authorities say is Godwin. Kuwas’ wife allegedly told the authorities he received 75,000 guilders — about $42,000 — for the slaying but had to share the money with the driver.
Rip, in a letter to American authorities in May, requested Godwin be detained under the 1980 extradition treaty between the United States and the Netherlands.
Regan, for his part, maintains that someone else served as Kuwas’ accomplice. “Let me say it as clearly as I can,” he said. “My client did not participate in the Conception murder.”
Aside from the alleged misidentification, Regan has pointed to a number of recent deaths of inmates on the island, which sits off the Venezuelan coast.
“We assert that if my client is, in fact, extradited to Curaçao, he won’t survive the jail,” he added.
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.