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    12 beers in less than 3 hours: A binge or a ruse in Temescal Valley triple-murder case?
    • April 26, 2023

    The prosecution in the murder trial of a Temescal Valley man who is accused of causing the traffic collision that killed three teenagers in 2020 after they played ding dong ditch on him sought on Tuesday, April 25, to cast doubt on Anurag Chandra’s testimony — including his claim that he drank 12 beers in the hours before the crash.

    Chandra, 45, took the witness stand for a second day. He has pleaded not guilty to three counts each of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

    Chandra previously testified that he saw a person in front of his home on Jan. 19, 2020, who wore a sweatshirt hood over his head. That person knocked on the door, rang the doorbell and exposed his buttocks. Chandra said he was afraid for his family’s safety, so he climbed in his car in an effort to chase down that person’s car and verbally express his anger.

    He said the teens’ 2002 Toyota Prius sideswiped his 2019 Infiniti during the chase. Chandra said he continued to pursue the Prius and rear-ended the car when the Prius suddenly braked.

    The Prius skidded into a tree on Temescal Canyon Road, killing three boys and badly injuring three others. Chandra then slowly drove past the crash site before heading home. He said he didn’t stop because he didn’t realize anyone was injured and didn’t believe he was responsible for the collision.

    A prosecution crash-reconstruction expert testified Monday that Chandra had intentionally rammed the Prius, at one point driving 99 mph in a 40 mph zone.

    Chandra, in a video played Tuesday of his interrogation in a California Highway Patrol office following his arrest, told Investigator Steve Cuevas that he “very, very rarely” drank alcohol.

    Chandra testified Tuesday that after drinking 12 bottles of Corona Premiere between 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. the night of the crash, he planned to rise by about 5 a.m. the next day to meet a distributor at work in Buena Park to discuss a business deal.

    Chandra also testified that despite the alcohol consumption, he was driving under control, even using his turn signals, as he pursued the Prius.

    “Did you say 12 beers to give yourself a defense against premeditated murder?” Beecham asked.

    “No,” Chandra said, before adding: “I’m not an attorney.”

    Drake Ruiz, Daniel Hawkins and Jacob Ivascu were killed in January 2020 when, prosecutors say, Anurag Chandra rammed their car off the road in Temescal Valley. Chandra faces three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in 2023. (Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

    Chandra testified that he arrived home as his wife was taking out the garbage can. She asked about the damage to their car, he said, and he responded that he didn’t want to talk about it and would “take care of things later.”

    Officers who found the Infiniti’s front license plate at the crash scene arrived at his home a short time later, around 11 p.m., and knocked on the door and shined their flashlights. But Chandra testified he was asleep, having passed out from the “overwhelming stress.”

    He finally awoke at about 2 a.m. and called 911 to report suspicious people outside his home. He didn’t mention the collision to the dispatcher, who explained in the 911 tape played for jurors that those people were law enforcement officers.

    “Why are the officers at my door?” Chandra asked the dispatcher.

    Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday.

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    ​ Orange County Register