A man in California has been convicted for the horrific murders of three teenagers who pulled a ding-dong-ditch prank at his house back in 2020.
According to the Associated Press, 45-year-old Anurag Chandra was found guilty of three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder on Friday. The verdict stems from an incident on January 19, 2020, where a group of teens decided to play a prank on Chandra. On the night of the tragedy, authorities said one of the boys hopped out of their Prius, rang the man’s doorbell, got back into the vehicle, and drove away.
Chandra was so angered by what happened that he then jumped into his car to chase after them. He rammed into the teen’s vehicle, causing them to crash into a tree and a utility pole. Per The Press-Enterprise, a prosecution expert shared in the trial that Chandra had been driving at a speed of 99 miles per hour in a 40 mph area when he hit the kids’ car. OMG!
His actions ended up killing three 16-year-olds: Drake Ruiz, Daniel Hawkins, and Jacob Ivascu. Heartbreaking. Three others were also injured in the crash. And rather than stopping to help the boys he hit, Chandra drove past the accident and returned home. He was later arrested and charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. Chandra then pleaded not guilty.
Ding-Dong-Ditch Horror: Calif. Man Convicted of Murdering 3 Teens After Becoming Enraged by Doorbell Prank https://t.co/QtFMOYYlT6
— People (@people) May 2, 2023
During the trial, he shared his side of the story. The Press-Enterprise reported that Chandra said he became very worried when he spotted someone in front of his home with a sweatshirt hood pulled over his head. He then claimed that the teen rang the doorbell, pulled down his pants, and flashed his butt before running away. Chandra claimed he was in fear for his family when he got in his 2019 Infinity and went after the teen’s car. However, he also admitted to having drunk 12 beers in less than three hours before the prank occurred…
Chandra alleged he only rear-ended the Prius during the pursuit when it suddenly braked. After witnessing the car hit the trees, Chandra told the court he slowly drove past the crash site but did not stop because he never realized they were injured. A little tough to believe given the state of the car, as seen above.
Per The Press-Enterprise, he also thought he was not responsible for the car crash. Seriously??! This man who purposefully chased a group of kids and drove 59 mph over the speed limit did not think it was his fault for what happened?! He could have chosen not to get in his car and follow these teenagers over a harmless prank — especially after he had been drinking. However, he did — and his careless actions ended up having deadly consequences.
Despite the tragedy, one of the late teenagers’ mothers has since chosen to forgive Chandra. Jacob’s mom, Ramona Ivascu, told People in 2020:
“I do forgive him, because I have to forgive him, in order so that I can be forgiven. 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.’”
Wow. She is showing some serious kindness and strength. No one would have blamed her if she never found it in her heart to forgive this. Meanwhile, Daniel’s mom Janet Hawkins said her family had found some “peace” amid their grief, explaining to the outlet:
“There’s a peace knowing that [the boys] lived life here together on Earth, and they’re now living their life in heaven together.”
While the parents forgave Chandra for his actions, they still wanted him “to pay” for killing their loved ones. Ramona said at the time:
“He does have to pay for the crime that he’s committed. 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?”
Now, the families are getting some justice. Following his conviction last week, Chandra will be sentenced on July 14 and potentially faces life in prison without parole. Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a statement after the verdict, per NBC News:
“The murder of these young men was a horrendous and senseless tragedy for our community. This is an important step toward justice.”
Our hearts go out to the families of these three boys. A GoFundMe page has been created to help with the families expenses. Reactions, Perezcious readers? Let us know in the comments below.