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California man sentenced to life in prison for killing 3 teens over doorbell prank

(KTLA) – A man who killed three teenage boys in California after they played a doorbell-ringing prank on him in 2020 was sentenced to life in prison on Friday.

Anurag Chandra, 45, from Corona, faced life in prison without the possibility of parole after he was convicted by a jury in April of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

The deadly crash happened in Riverside County on Jan. 19, 2020, as six teenage boys were having a sleepover that night. One of the boys was given a dare to approach Chandra’s home on Modjeska Summit Road.

After ringing Chandra’s doorbell, the teens quickly drove away in a 2002 Toyota Prius.

Chandra chased down the six teens in his 2019 Infiniti Q50 and eventually caught up with them on Temescal Canyon Road near Squaw Mountain Road.

Chandra rear-ended and sideswiped their vehicle until they were forced off the road and slammed into a tree. Chandra had reached speeds of 99 miles per hour at the time, officials said.

He then drove away from the scene and returned home without reporting the crash, authorities said.

An officer with the California Highway Patrol investigates the scene of a deadly crash in the Temescal Valley, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. (Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register via AP, File)

The collision killed three teen boys identified as Drake Ruiz, Daniel Hawkins, and Jacob Ivascu, all 16 years old.

The other teens who survived the crash were an 18-year-old driver, a 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy. A large vigil with hundreds of community members was held in the boys’ honor in 2020.

At the time, witnesses who saw the accident followed Chandra’s vehicle to a nearby home before reporting him to authorities, according to the California Highway Patrol.

One of the victims’ mother told Nexstar’s KTLA the boys were celebrating a birthday that night and played the ding-dong ditch prank on a home they believed belonged to another teenager they knew. 

“Every day we sense the absence of this young man,” said Craig Hawkins, Daniel’s father. “The hole in our hearts and lives from the taking of our son’s life is staggering.”

Chandra testified at trial that one of the boys who rang his doorbell had exposed his buttocks before running away, according to The Riverside Press-Enterprise. 

Chandra claimed he followed the teens’ vehicle because he feared for his family’s safety and wanted to express his anger. He said he was “extremely, extremely mad” from the prank.

Chandra also testified that he drank 12 beers in the hours before the crash.

“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,” said District Attorney Mike Hestrin. 

Chandra has been in custody at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside since his arrest on Jan. 20, 2020. 

He was also facing criminal charges in connection with a domestic violence case in which he plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of spousal battery and child endangerment.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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