The Thane district and sessions court sentenced four murder accused to life imprisonment for killing a 40-year-old history-sheeter.
It was the eyewitnesses' accounts nailed the culprits and sessions judge IB Sheikh sentenced Ganesh Shirke, 36, Bhau Charvat, 26, Jagdish alias Kaliya Bhau Ingawle, 31, and Dhirendra alias Balu Waadwal, 21, to life.
On May 24, 2009, the four accused and a fifth one - Dhiraj Pawar, 31, - murdered Roha resident Eknath Ratate in front of his aunt's residence in Tekdi bungalow. Pawar died of a cardiac arrest inside prison in 2010.
The police said Ratate and the accused were playing cricket around 6pm on the day of the murder when a fight broke out between them.
"After the fight, the accused came with choppers and knives and murdered him. There were 26 deep injuries on his body and the murder was witnessed by several people," said police inspector (crime) Hemant Sawant, who investigated the case.
"Ratate had a criminal record of assaults when he used to stay in Tekdi bungalow. But he had shifted to Roha about five years ago and was into farming there. The accused did not have a permanent job. This was their first crime."
The officer said it was the eyewitnesses' accounts that did the accused in.
"The four accused have been sentenced for life. There were eight to nine eyewitnesses, who were examined. The eyewitness accounts corroborated with the medical evidence, which showed that the deceased was stabbed with a sharp object and had 26 injuries on his body, led to the conviction of the accused, " said public prosecutor Sangeeta Phad.
"The murder weapon was also recovered on the instance of the accused," she added.