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2 students out of jail after DA intervenes

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Source: Thursday, November 09, 2006, by Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [1]

The two Carnegie Mellon University students who tried to break into Heinz Field early Sunday morning were released from jail yesterday after their $1 million bonds were reduced to zero.

Sudeep Paul, 21, of New York, and Anand Shankar Durvasula, 20, of California, are free on their own recognizance after the district attorney's office told Common Pleas Judge Cheryl Allen they're no threat to anyone.

The two students embraced family members inside the entrance to the Allegheny County Jail as they were released at 8 p.m. One of them broke into tears. They did not comment as they walked away from the jail with their families.

A city magistrate set their $1 million bond on his own without input from the district attorney's office, the U.S. attorney's office or the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which responded to the breakin attempt because of a threat to NFL stadiums last month.

Yesterday the district attorney's office said neither man has a record and both are enrolled as students at Carnegie Mellon. After consulting with the FBI, prosecutors said there is "no evidence" the two were engaged in any acts of terrorism.

The case never left local jurisdiction despite the response of the task force, which is made up of local, state and federal agencies.

Caroline Roberto, Mr. Paul's lawyer, and William F. Ward, Mr. Durvasula's lawyer, presented letters from Carnegie Mellon's dean of students saying both men are welcome back as students in good standing.

The lawyers said the men are anxious to get back to class.

Ms. Roberto characterized the arrests as a "mistaken apprehension by law enforcement" and said it was a "testament to his character" that Mr. Paul cooperated with authorities so that any threats to homeland security could quickly be ruled out.

Yet the two men did tell police and security guards two stories about why they were there, and they didn't surrender immediately when confronted.

When guards approached them trying to scale a service gate at 1:48 a.m., they started to walk away. City officers from the North Side station detained them.

They first said they were scoping out their seats for the game. Then they said were there to shoot the end of a music video on the field.

Security cameras showed that they had also entered the stadium earlier through a door that hadn't fully closed, but then left for some reason, only to try later to scale the fence using a chair.

They also left their video recorder in the Lexus sport utility vehicle they drove to the scene.

Mr. Paul's parents, who appeared in court, had no comment. Mr. Durvasula's family did not appear.

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