Jury: Man guilty of 3 killings after ‘ding dong ditch’ prank
Apr 28, 2023, 4:47 PM
(Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register via AP, File)
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A jury found a Southern California man guilty Friday in the killings of three teenage boys after they played a doorbell-ringing prank on him in 2020, according to a newspaper report.
The victims were among six teens inside a Toyota Prius on Jan. 19, 2020 when Anurag Chandra intentionally rammed their vehicle off the road and fled. The Prius’ driver lost control and the sedan slammed into a tree in Temescal Valley, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
The friends had dared one boy to either jump into a pool at night or play “ding dong ditch.” The boy ran up to Chandra’s home — a stranger to the teenagers — rang the doorbell and and ran back to the car when Chandra opened the door.
The jurors found Chandra guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. About 30 people attended the reading of the verdict Friday, including the three survivors, The Press-Enterprise reported.
Chandra’s attorney, David Wohl, and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately return requests for comment Friday.
Chandra took the witness stand during his trial and testified that one of the boys rang the doorbell and exposed his buttocks before running away, according to The Press-Enterprise. Chandra testified that he followed because he feared for his family’s safety and wanted to express his anger. He said he was “extremely, extremely mad” from the prank.
Chandra also testified that he drank 12 beers in the hours before the crash, the newspaper reported. He said he did not plan to crash into the Prius and testified that he not stop after rear-ending the sedan because he did not realize anyone had been injured — even though he admitted under cross-examination that he had been driving 99 mph (159 kph) before the collision.
The crash killed 16-year-olds Daniel Hawkins of Corona; Drake Ruiz of Corona; and Jacob Ivascu of Riverside, according to the Riverside County coroner’s office.
Sergio Campusano was the Prius’ 18-year-old driver at the time. He and then-13-year-olds Joshua Hawkins and Joshua Ivascu survived the crash and testified against Chandra during the trial.
Chandra already was facing criminal charges in connection with alleged domestic violence in 2020 when the killings occurred.