"This is an important step toward justice."
A US Indian man has been convicted of murder after he intentionally rammed a car carrying a group of teenagers who had played a doorbell prank on him.
Three teenage boys died and three others were injured when they were struck by a car driven by Anurag Chandra.
Their vehicle careened off the roadway and into a pole in Riverside County, California.
Chandra was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder following the incident on January 19, 2020.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said:
“The murder of these young men was a horrendous and senseless tragedy for our community.
“This is an important step toward justice.”
The victims were Daniel Hawkins, Drake Ruiz and Jacob Ivascu, all aged 16.
The three injured included the driver Sergio Campusano.
According to the authorities, the crash happened just before midnight in Temescal Valley, approximately 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Mr Campusano said that one of the boys rang Chandra’s doorbell and ran back to their awaiting vehicle as part of a prank known as doorbell ditch or ding-dong ditch.
The teenagers fled in a Toyota Prius, with Mr Campusano behind the wheel. However, they soon realised that Chandra was pursuing them.
Chandra struck the rear of the Prius, causing it to go off the pavement.
Mr Campusano said: “I whipped into my window and I blacked out and then I remember I woke up on the floor.
“I don’t remember how I got there. I was shaking.”
During the trial, it was heard that Chandra was left “extremely, extremely mad” by the prank.
He also testified that he drank 12 beers in the hours before the crash and had been driving 99 mph before the collision.
Chandra said he was worried about his family’s safety and he followed the teenagers to express his anger.
Chandra said he never intended to hit the teenagers’ car but rear-ended them after the Prius braked suddenly.
He did not stop after hitting the car because he did not realise there were injuries.
Chandra was convicted of all the charges related to the crash.
He was facing criminal charges in connection with alleged domestic violence in 2020 when the killings occurred.
When he is sentenced on July 14, 2023, Chandra faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.