A man from Corona, Anurag Chandra, has been found guilty of three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He recevied this verdict after killing three teen boys who played a doorbell prank at his residence in 2020.
Chandra intentionally rammed his vehicle into a Toyota Prius occupied by the teenagers and forcing it off the road. The jury reached their verdict after roughly three hours of deliberation.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin expressed gratitude to the jury for their decision, describing the tragic incident as a “horrendous and senseless” event for the community and an important step towards justice.
Chandra’s attorney, David Wohl, criticized the first-degree murder conviction as “a complete overreach” and intends to file a motion for a new trial. Wohl had hoped for a voluntary manslaughter conviction or an outright acquittal, maintaining that the legal battle was far from over.
The fatal incident occurred on January 19, 2020, when six teenagers, who were having a sleepover, dared one another to perform a “ding-dong-ditch” prank at a nearby house.
After ringing the doorbell at Chandra’s home, the teens fled in their waiting Prius, pursued by Chandra. Authorities reported that Chandra’s car struck the rear of the Prius near Squaw Mountain Road, causing it to veer off the road and ultimatley crash into a tree.
Jacob Ivascu, Drake Ruiz, and Daniel Hawkins lost their lives as a result of the collision. The other three teenagers in the car, including the 18-year-old driver and two younger passengers, were freed by firefighters.
Wohl claimed that the media had portrayed the incident as a simple prank, but in reality, one of the teenagers had pounded on Chandra’s door and exposed himself. Chandra was at home with his wife and two daughters at the time and feared for their safety, prompting his response. Wohl argued that the situation was more serious than a typical doorbell prank.
According to The Riverside Press-Enterprise, family members and friends of the victims were present in court as the verdict was read, many of them visibly emotional. Alex Ivascu, the father of two teens involved in the incident, expressed relief that justice had been served and praised the jury for considering the facts of the case.