14-year-old Joshua Ivascu had no idea what was going to happen when he pressed a stranger’s doorbell on the night of January 19, 2020. He had been dared to complete the ‘ding-dong ditch’ prank by his friends during their sleepover.
The man who lived inside the pranked home, Anurag Chandra, was enraged, according to the Riverside County district attorney’s office.
Once Joshua and his friends fled in their 2002 Toyota Prius, Chandra gave chase. Just minutes later, he slammed his car into the Prius, forcing it off the street and into a nearby tree.
Three of the six teenage boys died.
Chandra was subsequently convicted of three counts of fire-degree murder, including three counts of attempted murder. More recently on Friday, he was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole, according to a news release written by the Riverside County district attorney’s office.
Mike Hestrin, the district attorney, praised the Riverside County Superior Court Judge for giving the man the harshest possible sentence, saying that his anger had caused immeasurable grief for the boys’ families- that “[they] will never be the same.”
David Wohl, the defense attorney, wrote in a statement that he and his client are disappointed with the results of the trial and that they plan on appealing the verdict. In the statement, he claimed “manslaughter would have been appropriate” as the incident was not a pre-meditated murder.
On January 19, 2020, the six teenage boys were celebrating the 16th birthday of Joshua’s brother with a sleepover. They spent the day scarfing down junk food and tossing around a football. After that, they decided to play truth or dare, a classic sleepover game.
The dares started out innocently, with the boys eating tablespoons of Tabasco sauce and chugging down ingredients that they found in the fridge. As they continued to play, however, the stakes got steeper. Eventually, Joshua was dared by the boys to “ding-dong ditch” a house in the neighborhood.
They ultimately picked Chandra’s house as the lights were on, which led them to believe someone was inside.
Joshua knocked on the door at approximately 10:15 p.m. Unsure if his knocks were heard, he eventually rang the doorbell. He also pulled down his pants to “moon” the homeowner, who unknown to him, was watching it unfold through the blinds.
During the trial, Chandra testified that he believed the person who rang the doorbell was a sex offender planning to attack him, his wife, and his twin daughters. He told jurors that he chased the boys in his vehicle as a means of expressing his anger.
Even after the 18-year-old driver made a U-turn in the Prius, Chandra continued to chase them. Both of the cars eventually approached Squaw Mountain Road, where Chandra rammed into the back of the boys’ vehicle, causing it to steer off the road and hit a tree.
Joshua’s brother, Jacob Ivascu, who was celebrating his 16th birthday, died at the scene. Two of his friends, Drake Ruiz and Daniel Hawkins died soon after being taken to the hospital.
Having left the house without his cellphone, Chdnra drove his damaged vehicle back home. He did not call 911, claiming that he was too tired from a night of heavy drinking and that he had experienced “overwhelming stress” from the incident.”