An Indian man convicted of killing a baby girl and her grandmother in Pennsylvania, lost his appeal against the death sentence April 26, according to news reports.
Raghunandan Yandamuri of Upper Merion in Montgomery County, PA, was convicted in 2015 for killing Saanvi Venna, the 10-month old baby, and her grandmother Satyavathi Venna, 61.
The Associated Press reported the Pennsylvnia High Court affirmed the death sentence saying it was based on evidence presented during the trial.
An IT professional from India, Yandamuri knew the parents of the baby, Venkata and Latha Venna and as well as the grandmother, as they lived in the same complex
During the trial, Yandamuri served as his own lawyer, telling the court in 2015 when he was convicted, that he was so dissatisfied with his attorneys, he would rather be executed immediately than continue seeking a new trial with them, the National Post reported.
Prosecutors had described the killings as a botched kidnapping event staged to meet thousands of dollars of his gambling debts. Yandamuri claimed he panicked when the grandmother opened the apartment door to him as he was carrying his knife. She was found by her son in a pool of blood stabbed to death. As for the baby, Yandamuri said he accidentally dropped her, then covered her mouth with a handkerchief to silence her, and tied a towel around her head. He dumped the baby in an unused sauna in the basement fitness center in the building. He also claimed that when he came back hours later with milk for the baby, she was unconscious. During the three-day search for the baby, Yandamuri even joined the volunteers and handed out flyers.
“They both are working, so I thought maybe they have some money,” Yandamuri told police in a videotaped statement, quoted in media reports. “My intention was not to kill anyone or not to harm anyone. I only tried to kidnap the baby.” He demanded an amount of $50,000 in a ransom note. At one point he spun a yarn about being forced to commit the murders by two white men who threatened to harm his wife Komali. He also claimed police forced him to confess.
Ironically, though Yandamuri is sentenced to die with a lethal injection, the current governor of Pennsylvania has a moratorium on executions in effect since February 2015 until a final report from the task force which is reviewing capital punishment.