A man convicted of killing a baby and her grandmother during a kidnapping plot gone wrong will face the death penalty.
Raghunandan Yandamuri, 27, was sentenced to death for the October 2012 slayings of 10-month-old Saanvi Venna and 61-year-old Satayrathi Venna.
The jury began deliberating around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday to decide whether Yandamuri would be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Shortly after 8 p.m. they announced their decision to sentence him to death.
After hearing the decision, Yandamuri showed little emotion though he was seen writing furiously on a notepad.
"He did not express a lot of emotion although I know he was absolutely disappointed," Defense Attorney Henry Hilles said.
Prior to Tuesday's decision, Hilles urged jurors to put a stop to the killing and sentence Yandamuri to life in prison. Hilles called the botched kidnapping a “horrible plan that went wrong,” and called Yandamuri’s apology to the victim’s family, “the lamest apology the jury is going to hear in this case.”
He also assured the jury that regardless of what decision they made, the only way Yandamuri would leave a state correctional facility was “in a pine box.”
Hilles acknowledged his client didn't put up much of a fight however. After his conviction, Yandamuri even told the judge he wanted to die.
"I believe if he expressed remorse we would have had a better chance to save his life," Hilles said. "But that wasn't his strategy and accordingly, here we are."
A formal sentencing for Yandamuri will be scheduled within the next 45 days.
Prosecutors said Yandamuri hatched the kidnapping plot to pay gambling debts after losing at least $15,000 at a casino near his office. He told investigators that 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 investigators that he accidentally dropped the baby, put a handkerchief over her mouth to quiet her and tied a towel around her head, then left her in a trash-strewn, unused sauna in a basement fitness center. He said he returned hours later with milk for her, but 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, met the visiting grandmother and used family nicknames in a ransom note demanding $50,000, authorities said.