In less than a year after heinous crimes committed by him came to light, a special court in Telangana's Nalgonda district found Marri Srinivas Reddy guilty in a triple rape and murder case. He was sentenced to death by the Court of the I Additional District Judge and Special Court for POCSO cases at Nalgonda on Thursday.
While Srinivas Reddy was convicted for raping two minor girls from Hajipur village, he was found guilty of murdering and burying three of them. He was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of the two minors and awarded rigorous imprisonment for the murder of the third girl. Besides the death penalties, Srinivas was given two sentences of 20 years of rigourous imprisonment for rape, 10 years of rigoruous imprisonment for kidnapping and another 7 years for causing disapperance of evidence.
He was also sentenced to one and a half years of simple imprisonment in total and was awarded a fine of Rs 5,000.
Before pronouncing the judgement judge SVV Natha Reddy asked Srinivas Reddy if he have any final comments to offer. He repeated his earlier claim that he was framed by police. The court then said that he was guilty and held off the quantum of sentence until after lunch. The judge also said that the convict could appeal the verdict and free legal aid would be provided.
Relatives of the victims had gathered at the court complex and waited with for the judgement with nervous anticipation.
Srinivas, who was lodged in the Nalgonda district jail was brought to the court amid tight security.
It was on April 25, 2019 that a 14-year-old girl from Hajipur village in Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district went missing. On April 28, the police arrested Srinivas, a lift mechanic.
In the investigation that followed, three bodies including that of the 14-year-old minor were recovered. The other victims were identified as a 17-year-old from Hajipur who had been missing for four months and a 11-year-old girl from Maisireddypalli village, who had been missing since 2015, when she had visited Hajipur to meet her aunt.
All three crimes took place under the jurisdiction of the Bommalaramaram police station.
The police later said that Srinivas was also involved in the murder of a woman in Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh in 2016, where he had absconded after dumping her body in water tank.
A fast track court was set up to hear the case and on July 31, three chargesheets were filed by the police within the stipulated 90-day period.
The police submitted forensic reports, DNA results and technical evidence like mobile location during the incident, along with eyewitness accounts as part of the evidence.
The trial began on October 28 and the prosecution had sought the death penalty.
During the trial, the Special Public Prosecutor had cited earlier verdicts of the Supreme Court and other High Courts, and argued that it was the rarest of rare cases.
Srinivas had pleaded not guilty and claimed that he was framed by the police. He told the court that he did not know how to ride a bike and did not possess a cell phone. He also claimed that he was impotent.
Arguments of both parties concluded on January 18 and the court had deferred its judgement to February 6.
After the crimes came to light, CCTV cameras were installed and a bus service was started to Hajipur but locals have complained that it is inadequate.