(Thanks to SI Blog Reader Desimom99)
Telugu bidda Raghunandan Yandamuri is waging the fight of his life.
Defeat could literally cost Yandamuri his life because he faces the death penalty for his alleged killings of baby Saanvi Venna and her 61-year-old grandmother Satyavathi Venna during a botched kidnapping-robbery struggle at their King of Prussia (PA) apartment on October 22, 2012.
Both Yandamuri and the victims hail from the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh whose claim to fame includes obscenely horrid Telugu films featuring a bevy of scantily-clad fair-skinned women chanting Premistanu (I love you) and a drove of dark skinned men yodeling champaestanu (I’ll kill you) at precise four-minute intervals, mass export of deodorant-requiring software programmers to USA and exponentially adding to American obesity by introducing the aromatic dish Dum Biryani to their ravenous palates.
Yandamuri Takes Stand
Yandamuri has a herculean battle ahead of him when the case goes to trial.
In what must be causing him daily nightmares, Yandamuri has already confessed to his involvement in the killings of the two Vennas in a graphic video in which he bizarrely enacted the events that led to their deaths.
Yandamuri has claimed the Venna killings were accidental but subsequently blamed the deaths on other people.
But today Yandamuri was at the Montgomery County courthouse in Pennsylvania determined to get the video of his October 25, 2012 confession and other statements he made to the police suppressed before the case goes to trial.
Taking the stand this afternoon, 27-year-old Yandamuri told the packed court that he had made three written declarations and a video statement before his Miranda rights were read out to him.
During questioning by his public defender counsel Stephen J. Heckman, Yandamuri also said he thought the police officers who approached him when he was at the Valley Forge Casino were casino security staff.
Yandamuri brought up two key points in court today, points that he also made in an interview to a Telugu news channel recently – That his confessions were coerced and his repeated requests to speak with his wife Komali Alokam were denied by the police. Yandamuri’s wife was pregnant at the time but she has since returned to India and lost the baby in an abortion.
Yandamuri said the police threatened to arrest his pregnant wife if he did not confess.
The young man also lashed out at the police for not feeding him and faulted them for their rude behavior.
According to Yandamuri’s version of events, he cooperated with the police only because they held up the blandishment of going home and the threat of being convicted if the case went to trial.
If Yandamuri succeeds in convincing Judge Steven O’Neill that the police failed to Mirandize him before his written statements or the video confession it’d be a devastating blow to the prosecution team and a severe black eye to the Montgomery County police department.
In court today, Montgomery County police painted a different picture of events – Yandamuri was offered food and water, and that he cooperated willingly with law enforcement officers.
Raghunandan Yandamuri’s behavior in court today was not lacking in drama.
The former software programmer repeatedly interrupted the proceedings, including the prosecutor Deputy District Attorney Samantha Cauffman, his counsel Stephen Heckman and even the judge to provide his version of the crime drama.
Yandamuri’s interruptions prompted Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill to say that he would be willing to stop the pre-trial proceedings to let the young man speak to his lawyer. Otherwise, he should stop “blurting out” his interjections, the Judge said.
Yandamuri – Gaunt Look
Media reports say Yandamuri looks thinner now than in earlier appearances.
That’s hardly surprising since the young man has been in the Montgomery County jail since October 26, 2012.
And nobody ever said Pennsylvania jail diet was nutritious, fattening or in any way comparable to the succulent Andhra cuisine that Yandamuri has been accustomed to since birth.
Proceedings to Continue
Judge O’Neill today ordered that Yandamuri’s testimony will continue until January 13 after which he will be cross-examined by the prosecution team.
Yandamuri’s public defender Heckman is also asking for a change in venue, barring the prosecution from seeking the death penalty and prohibiting the Telugu bidda’s prior gambling history from being entered into evidence.