Man Who Rammed Teen's Car After Prank Sentenced

Anurag Chandra gets life with no parole
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2023 11:00 AM CDT
Man Who Killed 3 Teens After Prank Gets Maximum Sentence
This Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, booking photo released by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department shows Anurag Chandra, of Corona, California.   (Riverside County Sheriff's Department via AP)

A California man who caused the death of three teenagers after they rang his doorbell in a "ding-dong ditch" prank has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Anurag Chandra was found guilty in April of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder in connection with a Jan. 19, 2020 car crash that killed three 16-year-old boys. Prosecutors said Chandra, then 42 years old, chased the six teens in his 2019 Infiniti Q50 after one of them rang the doorbell of his Corona home and mooned him, the Washington Post reports. He rammed their 2002 Toyota Prius off the road and it slammed into a tree, killing Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu, and Drake Ruiz.

The other three teens, two 13-year-olds and the 18-year-old driver, were injured. The mother of one of the victims said the teens had been having a sleepover and they believed the home they targeted for the prank belonged to someone they knew, KTLA reports. During the trial, defense lawyers said Chandra, who had been drinking heavily that night, feared for the safety of his wife and twin daughters. At the sentencing hearing Friday, parents spoke of their grief, reports the New York Times. "Every day we sense the absence of this young man," Craig Hawkins said of his son Daniel. "The hole in our hearts and lives from the taking of our son's life is staggering."

"The lives of countless families will never be the same because of one man's anger, callousness, and outrageous conduct," Riverside County DA Michael Hestrin said in a statement, thanking the judge for imposing the maximum sentence. Defense attorney David Wohl said he and Chandra are "disappointed" by the sentence and they plan to appeal. He said a manslaughter conviction would have been appropriate, but a murder conviction is "erroneous." Chandra, who was followed and reported to police by a witness to the crash, has been in custody since his arrest on Jan. 20, 2020. At the time of his arrest, he was already facing domestic violence charges, reports KTLA. (More California stories.)

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