Home News Man Convicted in Killings After ‘Doorbell Ditch’ Prank Is Sentenced to Life

Man Convicted in Killings After ‘Doorbell Ditch’ Prank Is Sentenced to Life

Man Convicted in Killings After ‘Doorbell Ditch’ Prank Is Sentenced to Life

A California man who crashed into a car of six teenagers after they played a doorbell prank on him in 2020 was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday after his conviction on murder charges, officials said.

The man, Anurag Chandra, had been found guilty in April of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder in the crash in Riverside County, Calif. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office argued that the crash, which killed three 16-year-old boys, was intentional.

At the sentencing by Judge Valerie Navarro, Craig Hawkins, the father of one of the victims, Daniel Hawkins, described the intense grief he has felt since his son’s death.

“Every day we sense the absence of this young man,” the elder Mr. Hawkins said of his son in court, according to a news release from prosecutors. “The hole in our hearts and lives from the taking of our son’s life is staggering.”

Michael A. Hestrin, the Riverside County district attorney, said in a statement that “the lives of countless families will never be the same because of one man’s anger, callousness and outrageous conduct, and I am grateful to Judge Navarro for imposing the maximum sentence in this case.”

David Wohl, an attorney for Mr. Chandra, said that he and his client were “disappointed” in the conviction and sentence. He said that he planned to appeal the verdict.

“While we believe that some sort of manslaughter conviction would have been appropriate, a murder conviction under these circumstances was simply erroneous,” Mr. Wohl said.

On the night of Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, one of the boys had been dared to prank a home, the district attorney’s office said, and the six teenagers drove to Mr. Chandra’s house in Corona, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

The boy rang the doorbell and returned to the Prius they were riding in, and the group drove off.

Mr. Chandra chased them in his own vehicle, increased his speed to 99 miles per hour and rammed into the back of the Prius, “causing it to veer off the road and into a tree,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Chandra fled after the crash, the California Highway Patrol said, and was arrested after witnesses followed him and alerted the authorities.

Three boys, Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu and Drake Ruiz, were killed, the authorities said. The driver, Sergio Campusano, then 18, and two other boys, Joshua Hawkins, then 13, and Joshua Ivascu, then 14, were injured.

During the trial, Mr. Chandra testified that he had been afraid for his family’s safety after he saw a person with a hooded sweatshirt outside his home, and that he chased down the other car to verbally express his anger, The Press-Enterprise reported. He also testified that he drank 12 bottles of beer on the night of the crash, the newspaper reported.

Lauren McCarthy contributed reporting.


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