New York: An Indian-origin man has been found guilty of killing three teenage boys who played a doorbell-ringing prank at his house in the US state of California, according to local media reports.
Anurag Chandra, a Riverside County resident, was found guilty of three counts of attempted murder and three counts of first-degree murder on Friday, the New York Post reported.
The incident took place on January 19, 2020, when a group of teenage boys rang Chandra’s bell on a dare, the report added.
Chandra said that one of the teens flashed his buttocks before running away.
The crash killed all three teenagers who were 16 years old, it said.
During the trial, Chandra testified that he had been afraid for his family’s safety that night when he saw a person with a hooded sweatshirt outside his home, and that he chased down the other car to verbally express his anger, The Press-Enterprise newspaper reported.
He also testified that he had drunk 12 bottles of beer on the night of the crash, the newspaper reported.
He followed the boys and rammed their Toyota Prius off the road, which slammed into a tree in Temescal Valley.
Corona residents Daniel Hawkins and Drake Ruiz passed away due to their injuries, along with Riverside resident Jacob Ivascu.
The suspect testified that he did not plan to crash into the boys’ car, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper.
Chandra also said he did not stop after rear-ending their vehicle because he did not think anyone had been injured.
The driver, who was 18 years old, survived, along with two 13-year-old passengers.
Chandra is already facing charges in connection with a domestic violence incident in 2020 before the fatal crash.
He is set to face sentencing on July 14 and could see life in prison without the possibility of parole, the New York Times newspaper reported.
“The murder of these young men was a horrendous and senseless tragedy for our community,” Mike Hestrin, the Riverside County district attorney, said in an emailed statement. “I thank the jury for their verdict.”
David Wohl, an attorney for Chandra, called the verdict “unfortunate.”
“We didn’t think in any way, shape or form that it was a first-degree murder,” he said, adding that “there was a lot of passion surrounding this case for the past three years.”
Wohl said he would file a motion for a new trial on Chandra’s behalf and would appeal the guilty verdict if the motion was denied.
“We feel there are quite a few issues that are ripe for appeal,” he said, but declined to share additional details. Wohl added that he thought the defense exposed in their arguments a “great deal of corruption that was done in this investigation.”
Kevin Beecham, a deputy district attorney, said in an emailed statement that the prosecution was “very pleased that justice was served for the victims and mourn with their families over the losses they suffered.”