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Trial Ordered in Montco Kidnap-Double Murder Case

(Raghunandan Yandamuri.  Photo from Upper Merion PD)

(Raghunandan Yandamuri. Photo from Upper Merion PD)

Brad Segall Brad Segall
Brad Segall is the award-winning Suburban Bureau chief at KYW...
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By Brad Segall

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (CBS) — A 26-year-old Upper Merion, Pa. man has been ordered held for trial on charges that he murdered a 10-month-old girl and her grandmother during what prosecutors say was a botched kidnapping last month in King of Prussia.

The incident triggered an “Amber Alert” and a week long search for the child (see related stories).

In a 20-minute videotaped confession to police, Raghu Yandamuri says he planned to kidnap Saanvi Venna to get money from her parents.

But he says he panicked after her 61-year-old grandmother was killed during a struggle over a knife and then stuffed a handkerchief in the baby’s mouth.

Defense attorney Steve Heckman tried unsuccessfully to have the first-degree murder charges tossed out.

“Even if you believe their evidence, he did not go there with the specific intent to kill the baby or the grandmother, so that’s a key element that separates first-degree murder from felony murder second degree,” Heckman tells KYW Newsradio.

Prosecutor Kevin Steele says there are aggravating factors for the death penalty, but the decision on whether to seek it will be made by the Montgomery County district attorney before Yandamuri’s next court appearance, in January.

As for a possible motive, Yandamuri told authorities he has a little bit of a gambling problem.

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