NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A man accused of killing a 10-month-old girl and her grandmother in what prosecutors described as a kidnapping plot gone wrong was convicted of murder on Thursday.
Raghunandan Yandamuri, who had served as his own lawyer, was expressionless as the verdict against him was read, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported (http://bit.ly/1t7iDU7).
Yandamuri, 27, faces the possibility of the death penalty for the 2012 slayings of Saanvi Venna and her grandmother Satayrathi Venna.
Prosecutors argued Yandamuri hatched the 2012 plot to pay for a gambling habit. They said he was mired in gambling debts and told police he committed the crime after losing at least $15,000 at a casino near his office.
He told investigators he panicked after the grandmother, who had opened her family's apartment door to him, was killed in a struggle over a kitchen knife he had carried.
He told police he accidentally dropped the baby, put a handkerchief over her mouth to quiet her and tied a towel around her head. He said he then left the baby — with her dark hair, huge dark eyes and white dress — in a trash-strewn, unused sauna in a basement fitness center and when he returned hours later with milk for her she was unconscious.
Yandamuri knew the baby's parents from his King of Prussia apartment complex. Like him, they were young technology professionals from India. He had gone to a birthday party for the baby's mother, had met the visiting grandmother and used family nicknames in a ransom note demanding $50,000, authorities said.
"They both are working, so I thought maybe they have some money," Yandamuri told police in a videotaped statement played at a preliminary hearing. "My intention was not to kill anyone or not to harm anyone. I only tried to kidnap the baby."
At trial, though, Yandamuri argued two other men forced him at gunpoint to help and said he was pressured into confessing.
Evidence against him included DNA and the confession, which police say led to the baby's body.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com