Telugu native Raghunandan Yandamuri’s lawyer has filed a motion in the Montgomery County court alleging illegal actions by the police and sought suppression of the “tainted” evidence.
Yandamuri’s Public Defender attorney Stephen Heckman wrote in the motion filed Monday, June 17 that his client was coerced by the police into confessing to the murders and making self-incriminating statements without being read his Miranda rights, according to media reports.
Raghunandan Yandamuri is charged in the twin murders of 10-month-old Saanvi Venna and her 61-year-old grandmother Satyavathi Venna in their King of Prussia apartment on October 22, 2012 during a kidnapping incident that went awry.
“Without being permitted to contact his wife or anyone else, the defendant was driven directly to Upper Merion Police Department, then, was illegally coerced into giving a series of statements,” Heckman said in the motion.
Yandamuri has already confessed to the two killings on video but claims they were accidental.
“Said statements were the result of prior illegal police conduct and were, therefore, tainted by that illegality,” Heckman wrote in the court filing.
“Said statements were taken after coercion and undue influences placed upon the defendant by law enforcement authorities; as part of the long, 17-hour interrogation process. Defendant was denied sleep and food and was too tired to completely comprehend the situation, and in fact, was lying on the floor at one point, while answering questions,” Yandamuri’s attorney Heckman wrote.
The pre-trial motions were filed in preparation for Yandamuri’s trial set to start on September 9, 2013.
The murders of the two Vennas and the subsequent arrest of Yandamuri have attracted wide publicity in Pennsylvania and neighboring states and among the Indian diaspora in the U.S.
No Complaints Then
But in his video confession of October 26, 2012, Yandamuri said that the police had treated him “good.”
Raghunandan Yandamuri also acknowledged in the video confession that the police had treated him with courtesy and respect, provided him with food and water and that he had no complaints against the police.
In the video, Yandamuri also conceded that the police had explained his constitutional rights to him and that he still agreed to provide them with a voluntary statement.
Given what Raghunandan Yandamuri has said in the video, it’s bound to be difficult for his lawyer to convince the judge that his client was coerced by the police and to get the court to suppress the evidence.
Heckman and death penalty mitigation counsel Henry S. Hilles also filed motions Monday to bar imposition of the death penalty on Yandamuri and seeking a change in trial venue on the grounds that extensive publicity to the murders were prejudicial to their client.
So far Montgomery county prosecutors have shown no inclination to back away from their plan to seek the death penalty for Raghunandan Yandamuri.
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