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Techie found guilty in murder & kidnapping of 10-month-old baby and grandmother

NRI Pulse News Desk

Atlanta, GA: A jury found Raghunandan Yandamuri, a 28-year-old techie, guilty of first degree murder, kidnapping, burglary and abuse of a corpse in the deaths of 10-month-old baby Saanvi and her grandmother Satyavathi, 61, in Upper Merion, PA in 2012. Yandamuri showed no emotion as the jury of seven men and five women convicted him of two counts of first-degree murder in the killings.

A newly constituted jury began deliberating just after 11 a.m. last Thursday and announced its verdict shortly after 5 p.m.

Also read: Jury sentences Raghu Yandamuri to death

“We’ve gotten one step closer in the closure of this for the Venna family. It’s been a long struggle for them, two years, since Mr. Venna’s mother and 10-month-old were killed,” First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele said.

A day later, in the sentencing phase of the case, jurors wept as Venkata Venna, the baby’s father (and the son of Satyavathi Venna), said he’ll never forget the moment he found his mother’s body in his apartment on Oct. 22, 2012, and realized his only child was missing, reports “It shouldn’t happen to anyone,” he said crying.

The trial jury will hear arguments on whether Yandamuri should get the death penalty. If the jury does not sentence Yandamuri to death, he will be sentenced to life in prison.

After the verdict was read on Thursday, Padmavathi Yandamuri, the defendant’s mother took the stand and implored the jury to “please, save my son somehow.” She said her son had become suicidal after his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty during a terrorist attack in 1997. When he was 11, he tried to kill himself, she said.

The defense team argued that Yandamuri “went through a lot and our position is, given everything he’s been through, he is not an evil person and is not the worst of the worst and accordingly should not be put to death.”

The penalty phase is expected to last several days.

Yandamuri was convicted of kidnapping Saanvi Venna after murdering her grandmother Satyavathi Venna. Investigators found a ransom note demanding $50,000 or the baby would be killed. Yandamuri confessed to killing both the child and her grandmother after he was arrested.

The kidnapper used the nicknames of Saavi’s parents in the ransom note, which helped investigators narrow down the list of suspects as few people referred to them by those names. Yandamuri, a family friend of the Vennas, was on that list. During questioning, he confessed to the botched kidnapping and the killings.

 Raghu told the police that Saanvi began to cry and he stuffed a handkerchief in her mouth to make her stop crying and placed a bath towel around her head to hold the handkerchief in place. “He then put her inside a blue suitcase he found in the bedroom, he took jewellery he found in the apartment and placed that in the suitcase with Saanvi, he then left the apartment and abandoned Saanvi’s body hidden in the steam room, of the mens bathroom, of the gymnasium located inside marquis Apartment Building,” the affidavit said.
“Raghu then dumped the knife, some of his clothes and the blue suitcase in a dumpster in another part of the Upper Merion Township, he disposed some of the stolen jewellery in the Schuylkill river and said he left some at this place of employment,” the police said. The authorities had also announced $ 50,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the toddler.
The police, in its affidavit, said that Yandamuri told the detectives at the end of his interrogation to tell the media that his wife turned in him so that she could get the $ 50,000 award announced by the police and Telugu community for information leading to Saanvi.

However, Yandamuri maintained throughout the trial that the confession was coerced by cops. He said he was forced by two men who he identified as Josh and Matt, to lead them to Saanvi’s apartment. They were the ones who killed the grandmother, kidnapped the baby and later killed her, he claimed.

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