The California man who killed three teens by ramming their car off the road after they played a doorbell prank on him has been found guilty of their murders.
On Friday, Anurag Chandra, 45, was convicted of three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in the Jan. 2020 deaths of Drake Ruiz, Daniel Hawkins and Jacob Ivascu, all 16, in Temescal Valley, the Associated Press reports.
“The murder of these young men was a horrendous and senseless tragedy for our community,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a statement Friday, NBC News reports. “This is an important step toward justice.”
Three other teens were injured in the crash.
On the night of Jan. 19, 2020, the teens played a prank commonly known as Ding-Dong Ditch on Chandra. One of them jumped out of the Prius they were riding in, rang Chandra’s doorbell, jumped back in the car and drove off with the other teens, police said.
According to police, Chandra became so enraged he chased them down in his car, allegedly ramming into it at a high speed, sending the boys’ car crashing into a tree and then a utility pole.
Chandra was driving at 99 mph in a 40-mph zone when he struck the teens’ Prius, a prosecution expert said during the trial, The Press-Enterprise reported.
After the crash, Chandra returned home, where he was later arrested. He was charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty.
He faces life in prison without parole when he is sentenced on July 14.
During the trial, Chandra testified that he became alarmed when he saw someone in front of his house with a sweatshirt hood pulled over his head, The Press-Enterprise reported.
He testified that the person rang the bell, pulled his pants down and mooned him by exposing his buttocks, the newspaper reported.
Afraid for his family’s safety, he testified, he jumped in his 2019 Infinity and chased the Prius, the newspaper reported.
He also testified that he drank 12 beers in less than three hours before the teens rang his bell, The Press-Enterprise reported.
He claimed that he hit the Prius from behind when it suddenly braked, according to The Press-Enterprise.
One of the teens’ mothers has said she forgave Chandra.
“I do forgive him, because I have to forgive him, in order so that I can be forgiven,” Jacob’s mother Ramona Ivascu told PEOPLE in 2020. “I have to continue living life. I know that’s exactly what Jacob would tell me. If he could talk to me, I know exactly what he would say: ‘Mom, you have to forgive him. Because unforgiveness does not bring any closure.'”
Daniel’s mother Janet Hawkins told news outlets in 2020 that her family has received support from all over the country.
Said Hawkins, “It’s really been incredible just how it’s just gone all over the US, and how it’s impacted people, and we’ve even had people say, ‘This has really caused us to have good conversations with our kids and maybe even think twice, hugging our kids before they head out the door.'”
The parents still said they want to see justice served.
“He does have to pay for the crime that he’s committed,” said Ramona. “I wish I could ask this individual, if he could go back, would he do it the same way, does he regret what he did? Is he aware of the pain he’s caused?”
For all the grief that remains, said Janet, “There’s a peace knowing that [the boys] lived life here together on Earth, and they’re now living their life in heaven together.”
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help with the families’ expenses.