A judge found an Indian dentist couple guilty Monday of slitting the throats of their teenage daughter and a domestic servant after a murder trial that obsessed India for years, a lawyer said.
“They have been found guilty of murder. They have been found guilty of the destruction of evidence,” Manoj Kumar Rai, who was inside the court to hear the judge’s verdict, told reporters.
Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were charged with killing Aarushi, 14, and Nepalese employee Hemraj Banjade by slitting their throats “with clinical precision” at their home in an affluent New Delhi suburb in 2008.
The couple burst into tears when judge Shyam Lal read out the verdict in a packed court room in Ghaziabad, a city just outside the capital.
“We are deeply disappointed, hurt and anguished for being convicted for a crime that we have not committed. We refuse to feel defeated and will continue to fight for justice,” the Talwars said in a written statement given to reporters outside.
The couple face life in prison and possibly the death penalty when the judge hands down his sentence on Tuesday.
Investigators allege Aarushi was killed in a fit of rage when her parents found her with the 45-year-old domestic servant in an “objectionable” situation, while the couple have insisted they are victims of police incompetence and a media witch hunt.
The case has spawned a nation of armchair detectives debating every twist in investigation, turned the Talwars into household names, and polarized public opinion.
The prosecution has conceded there was no forensic or material evidence against the couple, basing its case on the “last-seen theory” — which holds that the victims were last seen with the accused.
Aarushi was found dead on her bed one morning in May 2008. Police initially blamed the missing domestic servant Hemraj — only to discover his decomposing body on the roof a day later.
His throat was also cut and he had a head wound.
The botched probe — investigators failed to seal the crime scene, allowing neighbors and relatives to swarm over it, or to find the second body for more than 24 hours — prompted police to close the case in 2010, citing no substantial evidence.
The Talwars then insisted they wanted the killers found and petitioned the court to reopen the case — but found themselves charged with murder.