Indian Techie to be Executed for Murders of Grandmother, Infant in U.S.

Raghunandan Yandamuri killed the 61-year-old woman and her grandchild when his kidnap attempt went wrong in 2012.


Raghunandan Yandamuri, an Indian techie from Vizag who was on a H-1B visa in the United States, will be executed on Feb. 23, 2018 for the murders of an old woman and her 10-month-old granddaughter, for which he was arrested in 2012. However, there is a moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania and he may get a reprieve.

Yandamuri was convicted of the murder of Satyavathi Venna, 61, by stabbing her and infant Saanvi Venna. He was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel signed a “Notice of Execution” on Jan. 8, 2018, setting Friday, Feb. 23, as the date for Yandamuri. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection. However, Pennsylvania has not executed anyone on death row since 1999.

He is the first Indian American to receive death penalty. Yandamuri, now 32, is being held without bail at the Greene State Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison at Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. He had said that he panicked and the deaths were accidental. During the trial, he acted as his own lawyer.

In 2012, he had entered the apartment of Venkata and Latha Venna, who were at work. Satyavathi was in the house with the infant. The man stabbed Satyavathi to kidnap the child and seek ransom of $50,000 from the parents. The parents had found a ransom note in the house after the child went missing. The note had nicknames for the parents used by very few people.

Yandamuri had planned to kidnap Saanvi, but covered her mouth to stop her from crying and stuffed her in a suitcase. He then left her at a sauna in the same apartment building where he lived with his wife Komali, and in which the Vennas also lived.

The baby died of suffocation in the suitcase. The baby was found after a three-day search conducted by the police and the local community, in which Yandamuri also helped distribute flyers for the missing child. His wife was pregnant when the murders took place.

He was arrested at a local gambling casino, and it came to light that he owed $35,000 in debts and had filed for bankruptcy when he was working in Northern California.

Yandamuri was convicted in 2014 for the murders and asked that death penalty be imposed on him. However, he later appealed the sentence saying that two other men were involved in the murders and kidnapping but lost the appeal in April 2017. His death sentence was upheld.

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