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Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Testify Regarding Evidence In Home Invasion Murder

The trial is for the high-profile 2012 killing of former Saratoga Mountain Winery owner Raveesh "Ravi" Kumra.

A police officer testified today in Santa Clara County Superior Court that a purse and bracelet stolen during the 2012 murder of a Monte Sereno man were found in the home of an alleged Oakland gang member who is accused in the murder with three others.

Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police Cpl. Erin Lunsford said that police used a warrant to search the Oakland home of Marcellous Drummer and found a vintage Louis Vuitton purse and an India-made gold bracelet allegedly taken during an invasion of the home of Raveesh Kumra.

Lunsford took the stand as Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith began a preliminary hearing before Judge Linda Clark to prove there is sufficient evidence for Drummer to stand trial for taking part in Kumra's murder.

Prosecutors allege that Drummer and alleged Oakland gang members Javier Garcia and Deangelo Joseph Austin forced their way into Kumra's home before midnight on Nov. 29, 2012, gagged him with packing tape, beat his wife, tied him and his wife up and then fled after stealing cash, jewelry and collectible coins.
  
Raveesh Kumra, who could not breathe with the gag over his mouth, suffocated and died in the early morning of Nov. 30, 2012.

The defendants are charged with murder, assault with a deadly weapon, threatening bodily harm and false imprisonment.

Prosecutors filed a complaint against Garcia and Austin on Dec. 31, 2012. Drummer, identified much later as a suspect in Kumra's murder, was arraigned on the charges on March. 7.

Another Kumra murder defendant is Katrina Fritz, Austin's sister, who was not at the home invasion but provided the others with information about Kumra's home and his valuables, according to the District Attorney's office.

Fritz served as a prostitute for Kurma starting in 1999, until they grew apart in 2011, according to Lunsford.

While Drummer, Garcia, Austin could face the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole, Fritz is scheduled to testify as a prosecution witness next week as part of a plea bargain, according to the district attorney's office.

During the start of the preliminary hearing today, Smith entered into evidence several color photos, including one showing the body of Kumra, with some of his clothes partially pulled off, lying on his back between the family room and kitchen of his home.

Lunsford, on the stand, maintained that Drummer is a member of the Oakland-based Ed Nario Team street gang with the nickname "Blade" and was identified by Fritz as being at the murder scene.

The police investigator said that based on searches of phone records recorded by a cell tower, Drummer contacted Fritz in the minutes leading up the home invasion.

Austin, he said, made 53 phone contacts with Drummer between Nov. 17 and 21, 2012 using one of Austin's phone numbers and 140 contacts with Drummer on a separate phone number from Nov. 20 to Dec. 7 that year.

While being cross examined by Drummer's lawyer James Blackman, Lunsford agreed that when shown photos of the vintage Louis Vuitton purse and the bracelet, Kumra's wife Harinder could not say for sure that the items were hers.

Lunsford, in answer to Blackman's questions, said that Drummer denied being a gang member and that an Oakland police officer who is an expert in criminal gangs there told Lunsford that he had not heard of Drummer.

Blackman also tried to cast doubt on the cell phone evidence, telling the judge that police could not prove that Drummer was the one who used the number they said was his.

He also had Lunsford acknowledge that he did not seize Drummer's cell phone or try to call the number that the officer claimed was Drummer's.

Lunsford also said that police did not find evidence of forced entry at Kumra's home or mud or debris on the floors inside even though it had rained in the Los Gatos area that night.

Smith, in a redirect, got Lunsford to testify that the gate outside Kumra's property led to driveways and walkways and that the home had an entryway between the garage and the family room that residents used to get into the home instead of the front entrance.

--Bay City News

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