A Southern California man accused of deliberately driving three teenage boys’ cars to death after they performed a practical joke on him by ringing the doorbell was convicted guilty of murder on Friday.
Three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder against Anurag Chandra were found guilty in a Riverside County courtroom.
It was a terrible and pointless tragedy for our town when these young guys were murdered. For their decision, I am grateful to the jury. Mike Hestrin, the county’s district attorney, said in a statement that this is a significant step toward justice.
After being contacted for comment on Friday, David Wohl, Chandra’s lawyer, did not immediately respond.
The victims, all 16 years old, were among six other teenagers in a Toyota Prius on January 19, 2020, when Chandra allegedly purposefully ran their car off the road before fleeing.
The Prius sedan struck a tree after the driver lost control of the vehicle in Temescal Valley, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
One child had been dared by his buddies to play “ding dong ditch” or jump into a pool at night.
According to The Riverside Press-Enterprise, Chandra, who didn’t know the teenagers, said at the trial that one of the lads rang his doorbell and showed his buttocks before fleeing.
Chandra claimed he did so out of concern for his family’s safety and to vent his resentment.
The publication added that Chandra also stated in court that he consumed 12 beers in the hours preceding the collision.
Even though he acknowledged under cross-examination that he had been traveling at a speed of 99 mph (159 kph) before the collision, the driver claimed he did not intend to hit the Prius and that he did not stop after rear-ending the sedan because he did not realize anyone had been hurt.
According to the Riverside County coroner’s office, the collision claimed the lives of Jacob Ivascu of Riverside, Drake Ruiz of Corona, and Daniel Hawkins of Corona.
The Prius’s 18-year-old driver at the time was Sergio Campusano. Joshua Hawkins and Joshua Ivascu, both 13 at the time, and he all survived the collision. They testified during the trial and were there when the judgment was announced.
When the murders occurred in 2020, Chandra was already under investigation for alleged domestic violence.