A California man was found guilty of murder on Friday after being accused of killing three 16-year-olds in 2020 by ramming their car with his after they pulled a doorbell prank. Anurag Chandra, a resident of Riverside County, was found guilty on three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Chandra allegedly escaped after deliberately slamming a Toyota Prius carrying six teens into a tree, forcing it to crash into a tree, according to the authorities. And three of the teenagers died, while the others were hurt. Chandra admitted that he drove up to 99 miles per hour before the fatal crash.
Too Big a Revenge
The accusations were based on an incident that happened on January 19, 2020, when a group of teenage boys rang Chandra's bell on a dare. One of the teenagers, according to Chandra, showed his buttocks before running away.
Chandra said he was "extremely, extremely mad" at the prank and expressed concern for the safety of his family. Chandra drank 12 beers on the day of the incident.
He chased the boys and rammed their Toyota Prius off the road, striking a Temescal Valley tree. Chandra then fled the scene.
"The murder of these young men was a horrendous and senseless tragedy for our community. I thank the jury for their verdict. This is an important step toward justice," Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a statement.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported that the suspect claimed during his testimony that he had no intention of hitting the boys' vehicle. He added that he did not stop after hitting their car from behind because he didn't believe anyone had been hurt.
Chandra admitted that he reached speeds of up to 99 mph before the fatal crash.
Too Costly a Revenge
Corona residents Daniel Hawkins and Drake Ruiz died alongside Jacob Ivascu of Riverside as a result of their wounds. All three victims of the crash were 16 years old.
The 18-year-old driver and two 13-year-old passengers both made it out alive.
According to the records, Chandra was already being investigated for child endangerment and alleged battery on a cohabitant at the time.
Following the killings, family members described the boys as playful, goofy, and full of life. Church authorities claimed that they belonged to a close-knit group of teenagers who took part in a local youth group.
"They relished living ... life itself was celebratory," Craig Hawkins, the father of Daniel and Joshua Hawkins, told USA TODAY in 2020.
They were excited about a sleepover and planned to consume junk food and play video games, according to Craig Hawkins. They were merely playing in the ding-dong ditch, "didn't we all do that?" said Hawkins.