Hyderabad: The Montgomery County Court Maryland, USA, on Thursday, found an AP techie guilty of the sensational double murder of a 10-month-old baby and her grandmother two years ago. The US Attorney has sought death penalty for him and quantum of punishment is yet to be pronounced.
The accused, 28-year-old Yandamuri Raghunandan, a native of Visakhapatnam, killed Saanvi Venna, the baby, and her grandmother, Satyavathi Venna, 61, during an attempt to kidnap the baby for ransom in Pennsylvania on October 22, 2012.
The jury found Raghunandan guilty on two counts of first-degree murder. He pleaded innocence and alleged the police framed him, and “two white men” forced him to help them kidnap Saanvi.
Raghunandan had gone to the US on an H-1B visa to study his MS in 2007. Police found that he was a gambler and had a $20,000 debt. He knew the child’s family in the US.
He slashed Satyavathi’s neck and stuffed a handkerchief into Saanvi’s mouth and put her in a suitcase. CCTV footage revealed there were no “white men” involved as he had claimed. DNA evidence also linked him to the crime. His mother, Padmavathi, broke down when she heard the verdict.
Initially, he had confessed to the crime, but had later retracted alleging that cops had forced him to confess. and blamed it on two White men. His pregnant wife Komali, who returned to India after the murders, refused to go to the US to testify at his trial.
CCTV footage revealed that there were no White men in the videos, as Raghunandan had claimed. Prosecution also produced DNA evidence linking him to crime. His confession led the police then to the body of Saanvi and the gold bangles he had stolen from the house.
Raghunandan's mother Padmavati, who was in the US for the trial, broke into tears in the courtroom after the jury delivered the verdict. She told the judges that her husband was a police officer killed in a Maoist attack, when Raghu was 10.
The death traumatised Raghu, who stopped sleeping and attempted suicide a year later by drinking kerosene. He was put on medication that helped him, but he stopped taking them at some point. "Please save my son somehow," she begged the court.