North Carolina teen sentenced to over a decade in prison for strangling mother to death after argument over pizza

19-year-old Arnav Uppalapati was sentenced to 12-15 years in prison for second-degree murder in the December 2015 death of his mother.


                            North Carolina teen sentenced to over a decade in prison for strangling mother to death after argument over pizza
(Source : Police Department)

A North Carolina teen who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the strangling death of his mother was sentenced to 12-15 years in prison. 19-year-old Arnav Uppalapati murdered his mother, Nalini Tellaprolu, in the garage of their Raleigh home over a disagreement over pizza in December 2015, and the teen was seen avoiding eye contact with his father and sister as he was led out of court to begin his jail term.

According to CBS 17, the incident unfolded on December 17, 2015, when emergency workers were called to the family's home in the 2100 block of Roland Glen Road after Uppalapati claimed he found his mother's body in the home's garage after returning from school. He also told police he had last seen Tellaprolu alive the night before she died.

She was found with a plastic bag over her head, with a police report that stated the Tellaprolu's body was covered in bruises and had scratches on her face, neck, torso, and arms. A subsequent autopsy confirmed she had been strangled to death.

According to the News & Observer, her husband, Babu Uppalapati, told investigators he had repeatedly called and texted his wife but had received no response. He said he then asked his son to check on her immediately. Suspicion fell on the teen properly once detectives were informed that Tellaprolu was a stickler about activating the home alarm system. That combined with the fact that there were no signs of forced entry meant the then-16-year-old Arnav became the prime suspect in his mother's murder.

Investigators then sent the plastic bag found over Tellaprolu's head for testing, and the teen's DNA was uncovered on the knot. It had taken over a year from the day of the murder for detectives to gather enough evidence to charge and arrest the teen. Detailing the incident to the court, Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said Arnav "fit the profile of a normal teen" and that the altercation between mother and son happened because Tellaprolu was strict and the 19-year-old possibly resented it.

He said the night of the murder, when his father was out of town on business, Arnav ordered a pizza, angering his mother. This resulted in an argument that saw Tellaprolu slap the teen and him retaliating by putting a plastic bag over her head, and choking her. He said Arnav held onto his mother's neck for at least three to four minutes before then dragging her to the garage. Defense attorney Ryan Willis called the case "a tragedy," with Cummings suggesting that Arnav's age and eventual confession were crucial factors in deciding the length of his prison term. Officials said it was "the absolute most lenient" possible sentence considering his age and immaturity.

The teen's sister submitted a letter to the court about the case, but its contents are unclear as it remained sealed throughout the trial. The 19-year-old did not speak during the sentencing hearing.