A jury in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose today found a defendant in the 2012 homicide of a wealthy Monte Sereno man guilty of first-degree murder with a gang enhancement that requires a life sentence without parole, according to a prosecutor.
The jury convicted Marcellous Drummer in the murder of Raveesh Kumra, who choked to death while gagged by duct tape during a robbery of his three-story home of cash, jewelry and other valuables on Nov. 30, 2012, Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith said.
The jury also found Drummer guilty of false imprisonment of Kumra and his ex-wife Harinder Kumra during the home invasion robbery but did not convict him on a felony assault with a deadly weapon charge on Harinder, finding him guilty instead of misdemeanor assault, Smith said.
But Drummer’s conviction on the count of first-degree murder with a special circumstance and a gang enhancement means that he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and sentences on the other charges likely will run consecutively, Smith said.
A hearing on Drummer’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 21 in Superior Court in San Jose, according to Smith.
Smith, after the verdict, recounted what he said to the jury during his closing argument last week.
Smith said that “Drummer’s decision to honor his gang’s motto of ‘Money Over Everything’ by tattooing ‘MOET’ on his arm led to his decision to care more about money than Raveesh Kumra’s life and ultimately led to the letters RIP being placed on the tombstone of Raveesh Kumra.”
“Today with their verdict, the jury added four more letters to the defendant – LWOP, for life without the possibility of parole for his reckless disregard for Mr. Kumra’s life and the incredible devastation that this has wrought (to) all Mr. Kumra’s family and friends,” he said.
Drummer’s Palo Alto attorney James Blackman could not be reached for comment on the verdicts.
Drummer was being tried separately from his two co-defendants in the Kumra murder case, DeAngelo Austin and Javier Garcia, who like Drummer are members of Oakland street gangs who have been charged in the robbery-murder but their trials have not begun.
Prosecutors alleged that the three men entered the Kumras’ Monte Sereno home, tied up and gagged Raveesh Kumra and beat, gagged and tied up Harinder Kumra before ransacking their home, taking about $30,000 in cash in addition to valuables before fleeing their home.
At one point while the Kumras were in tied up in the kitchen area of their home, Raveesh suffocated next to his ex-wife as the defendants ransacked the residence, according to prosecutors.
During Drummer’s trial, prosecutors used DNA evidence they said tied Drummer to the crime scene and relied on the testimony of a star witness, Katrina Fritz, a longtime prostitute from Pittsburg in the East Bay who provided sexual services for Raveesh Kumra from 1999 to 2011.
Fritz was originally a co-defendant in the robbery-murder for providing information about the layout of Kumra’s Monte Sereno home to Austin, who is Fritz’s brother, and how to slip inside through a side door, according to prosecutors.
But on Sept. 15, in a deal with prosecutors in exchange for her testimony against the three other defendants, she agreed to plead guilty to robbery with gang enhancements and false imprisonment instead of murder and receive a maximum sentence of 17 years in prison.
It was Fritz who first informed authorities about Drummer’s involvement in the home invasion after Austin and Garcia were arrested and charged, prosecutors said.
Fritz, who has testified in the preliminary hearings of Austin and Garcia, is expected to testify in their murder trials, according to the district attorney’s office.
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