The date is set for the execution of Raghunandan Yandamuri, the first Indian-American to be given death row in the United States. Yandamuri will be executed on February 23rd for the twin-murders he committed. The 32-year-old Indian-American in 2014 was given death penalty for kidnapping and killing a 61-year-old elderly Indian woman Satyavathi Venna and her 10-month grand-daughter Saanvi Venna. It was seen as part of a botched kidnapping-for-ransom plot. Earlier this month, the Department of Correction signed an execution order that Yandamuri be executed through lethal injection on February 23. Yandamuri is currently lodged in Greene State Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.
A native of Andhra Pradesh, Yandamuri had come to the US on a H-1B visa. He holds an advanced degree in electrical and computer science engineering. Following his conviction in 2014, he asked that death penalty be imposed upon him. Later he appealed his sentence but lost it last April. Raghunandan was arrested for the horrific crime in 2012. As per IB Times report, he had barged into Saanvi’s house when her parents, Venkat and Latha, were away at work. The victims used to live in Raghunandan’s apartment. He stabbed the elderly woman to death as she was trying to protect the child. He then abducted the infant in a bid to demand a ransom of $50,000. He then gagged the baby, put her inside a suitcase and left the bag in the basement gym of the apartment building, where he used to live with his wife Komali. In fact, when the cops were searching for the infant, the accused went around distributing fliers for the missing child. He was arrested a week later from a local casino after which it came to light that Yandamuri had lost 35,000 dollars in gambling and was bankrupt.
Meanwhile, State officials have said that Yandamuri’s execution could very well be delayed for a long time as no one knows when the moratorium on it would be lifted. State officials are awaiting the results of a study conducted by the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment, before moving forward with any executions.
Pennsylvania has not seen any executions in the last nearly 20 years. Since 1976, three persons have been executed in the States between 1995 and 1999. But when it happens, this could be the first execution of an Indian native in the US.