Former prostitute testifies in 2012 Monte Sereno murder

Monte Sereno murder victim Raveesh Kumra.
Bay City News
Thursday, May 08, 2014
A former prostitute who has agreed to be a prosecution witness in the murder of a wealthy Monte Sereno man has implicated her brother and herself in a plan to rob the victim, who was asphyxiated during the home invasion in 2012.

Katrina Marie Fritz took to the stand Thursday morning in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose to testify against her sibling Deangelo Joseph Austin and co-defendant Marcellous Drummer in exchange for a possible lighter sentence in the murder and robbery of Raveesh Kumra.

Drummer and Austin, along with Javier Garcia, are charged with forcing their way into Kumra's Monte Sereno home shortly before midnight on Nov. 29, 2012, gagging him with packing tape, beating his wife, tying him and his wife up and then fleeing after stealing cash, jewelry and collectable coins.

Fritz, in jail clothes and with her hair in a bun atop her head, testified today in a preliminary hearing for Drummer.

Drummer was arraigned March 7 on charges of murder, assault with a deadly weapon, threatening bodily harm, false imprisonment and robbery. Garcia and Austin were charged with the same crimes back in January 2013.

Fritz also has been charged in the case and faces a potential life sentence along with the three men, but is seeking a deal with prosecutors to have her potential sentence reduced because of her testimony.

She testified that she started working as a prostitute at age 13 in Oakland at the behest of her mother and that Kumra hired her as a prostitute in 1999 when she was 19 years old and remained a client until about 2011.

Fritz described how Kumra cavorted with her and three other prostitutes in his home at once, took her for trips to places like Las Vegas and Florida and in 2011 lied for her in Alameda County Superior Court so that she could collect about $30,000 that belonged to her brother Deangelo.

Kumra once wrote three of the prostitutes "a blank check" for them to use to buy three expensive cars in one day. He ultimately bought three cars for Fritz, she said. He also had a child with two of the prostitutes and supported them, she said.

Fritz testified that at one point, she became pregnant by a man other than Kumra but lied and told Kumra that the baby was his in order to get more money from him. She later agreed at Kumra's request to have an abortion, she said.

Fritz said that in 2012, her brother Deangelo called, asked her if she had seen Kumra lately and then "said he was thinking about going out there" to Kumra's home.

Early on Nov. 29, 2012, about a year after she had stopped communicating with Kumra, Fritz got a cellphone call from her brother, who told her that he intended to go to Kumra's property after she told him he kept cash and jewelry there.

"He just called and said he was on his way out," Fritz testified under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith.

Austin then phoned her again and Fritz said she cautioned him about how to treat Kumra.

"I told him, he's (Kumra's) getting old ... you know, be cool," Fritz said.

She provided him with directions on how to drive to Kumra's home and agreed to his request to provide him with a drawing of the interior of Kumra's spacious residence, which included a main home, garden and pool houses.

The property also had a circular driveway guarded by a front gate that Fritz said could be opened by keying in a code.

Fritz said that after providing sex to a regular client in San Francisco that Nov. 29, she drove her Lexus to meet Austin in West Oakland to provide him with the drawing.

Fritz said she arrived at the rendezvous spot and drove near a BMW car she owned and that Austin was driving that day. She said she saw Drummer, a man she knew whose nickname was "Blade," come out of the BMW. She also saw the outline of a third person who stayed inside the car.

"Blade jumped out," Fritz said. "I gave him a hug and stuff."

Fritz then said she went to see her brother next to the car to provide him with the drawing of Kumra's home.

Fritz, under questioning by Smith, said that most people who entered Kumra's home used side doors, such as a wooden door and a sliding glass door by the garage.

Prosecutors have alleged that the three men gained entry into the home through side doors.

Fritz was expected to continue testifying Thursday afternoon and on Friday under cross-examination by Drummer's attorney Jim Blackman.
Related Topics:
news crime murder home invasion robbery prostitution court Monte Sereno
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