Raghunandan Yandamuri, accused of killing baby, her grandmother, heads to court

Man will stand trial on murder charges

UPPER MERION TWP., Pa. - A man accused of killing a woman and her granddaughter during a botched kidnapping attempt in Montgomery County last month will stand trial.

"This is an incredible, heinous killing," said Kevin Steele, first asst. district attorney.

The crime was perpetrated, police said, by Raghunandan Yandamuri.

"Our goal is to spare him the death penalty, to get the most appropriate sentence for what, if anything, he did," said defense attorney Stephen Heckman.

What Yandamuri, 26, did, prosecutors said, was kill 10-month-old Saanvi Venna and her 61-year-old grandmother inside their Upper Merion Township apartment on October 26.

"Kidnapped a child and left a ransom note," Steele said.

Yandamuri, a neighbor and family friend, demanded $50,000 from the family or the baby would be cut into pieces, investigators said.

In a 20-minute taped interview confession played in court, Yandamuri, who admitted to a gambling problem, said he never meant to kill anyone and thought the family had the money to pay.

After panicking, Yandamuri said he killed the grandmother and then stuffed a handkerchief in Saanvi's mouth, wrapped a towel around her head and stuffed her in a suitcase.

The grandmother died of stab wounds to the neck and chest, according to the autopsy report. Saanvi's family heard details of her killing first hand in court.

The kidnapping resulted in a massive search for the little girl, which Yandamuri took part in. He even attended the little girl's vigil.

The girl was found several days later wearing a white dress and lying next to trash on the floor of the apartment complex's gym sauna, police said.

During his confession, Yandamuri said he returned to the sauna with a glass of milk, but Saanvi, he said, was already dead.

The prosecution is considering the death penalty.

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