Trial for 2007 LSU grad student murders underway
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Testimony began Monday afternoon in the second degree murder trials of Casey Gathers and Michael Lewis. The duo is accused of murdering LSU graduate students Chandrasekhar Komma, 31 and Kiran Allam, 33 both of India back in December 2007.
Gathers and Lewis are accused of the grad students at the Edward Gay Apartments on Dec. 13, 2007.
A third person accused in the case, Devin Parker, made a plea deal and agreed to testify during this trial.
Gathers is the suspected triggerman in the shooting deaths of the two victims. Their bodies were found after what police called a home invasion of Allam's apartment on the edge of the Baton Rouge campus.
First on the stand for the prosecutor was Allam's widow, Swapna Gunbalpally. She has since remarried. She testified how she discovered her husband's body in the Edward Gay apartment's they lived in just outside of the North Gate of LSU.
The victims were both international students from India. Investigators reported they were shot in the head execution style inside the apartment. The LSU Police Department said it received a call of about a medical emergency. Police arrived on the scene and found the two men shot, one bound with a cable.
Komma was a 31-year-old biology student from Kurnool and Allam was a 33-year-old chemistry student from Hyderabad.
Gunbalpally said when she approached the apartment on December 13, 2007, the door was open which was very unusual. She saw her husband's body lying next to the couch and sprinkled water on him to wake him up. He did not respond so she called 911 she said.
Gunbalpally also testified she immediately left the apartment and never saw her husband's friend who was in the back of the apartment bound, gagged and shot.
Defense attorney Beau Brock questioned Gunbalpally extensively about an automobile accident her husband was involved in when he attended the University of Arizona. She admitted he took pain medication but did not know what type he was on.
A Nigerian national, who is said to be the only eyewitness to the shooting, testified Monday evening that he saw three black males walking briskly to a compact car shortly after the shooting. The man lived in the same Edward Gay apartments. He added, "I don't want to be here...the judge made me."
In 2008, Gathers and Lewis were arrested in Vermilion Parish. The third suspect was identified as Parker. He was arrested on an unrelated simple robbery charge by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.
In the arrest warrant, police said, "Devin Parker admitted that he was present with the co-defendants at the apartment complex on the LSU campus where the two murders occurred." According to the warrant, "Parker described what occurred inside...including the fact that Casey Gathers shot both of the victims."
The trial is expected to last at least a week.
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