Driver Found Guilty of Murder After Crashing into Teens in Doorbell Prank

A California man was found guilty of murder on Friday after he struck a car carrying six kids in 2020 after they staged a doorbell ditch prank at his house.

After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury found Anurag Chandra guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder in connection with the collision on Temescal Canyon Road in Riverside County, California. The Superior Court of California heard an argument from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office that the collision, which claimed the lives of three 16-year-old males, was deliberate.

Mr. Chandra will be sentenced in July and might receive a life sentence without the chance of parole.

Driver Found Guilty of Murder

When a juvenile rang the doorbell and fled, the defendant’s behavior and actions were “egregious and extremely disproportionate,” according to John Hall, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, in an email at the time.

The six youths drove to Mr. Chandra’s in Corona, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, in January 2020 after one of the guys in the car was allegedly dared to prank a home. The party departed when the youngster rang the doorbell and got back into the Prius they were traveling in.

The Prius was then “caused to veer off the road and into a tree,” according to the prosecution, while Mr. Chandra pursued them in his own car. According to the California Highway Patrol, he ran away after the collision and was apprehended after witnesses tracked him to a house and called the police.

The tweet below confirms the news:

According to the authorities, Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu, and Drake Ruiz were killed. Joshua Hawkins, then age 13, and Joshua Ivascu, then age 14, as well as the driver, Sergio Campusano, then age 18, suffered injuries.

The Press-Enterprise stated that Mr. Chandra testified during the trial that he pursued down the other car to vocally convey his rage after seeing a person wearing a hooded sweatshirt outside his home that evening. The publication said that he also admitted during his testimony to consuming 12 bottles of alcohol the night of the accident.

In a statement sent by email, Mike Hestrin, the district attorney for Riverside County, said that the killing of these young men was a horrifying and unnecessary tragedy for our community. “I appreciate the jury’s decision,”

Mr. Chandra’s attorney, David Wohl, referred to the decision as “unfortunate.”

“We didn’t think in any way, shape, or form that it was a first-degree murder,” he said, adding that “there was a lot of passion surrounding this case for the past three years.”

Mr. Wohl said that if the demand for a new trial was rejected, he will submit an appeal of the guilty conviction on behalf of Mr. Chandra.

“We feel there are quite a few issues that are ripe for appeal,” he said, but declined to share additional details. Mr. Wohl added that he thought the defense exposed in their arguments a “great deal of corruption that was done in this investigation.”

Kevin Beecham, a deputy district attorney, said in an emailed statement that the prosecution was “very pleased that justice was served for the victims and mourn with their families over the losses they suffered.”

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