SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A man who fatally struck three 13-year-old girls who were trick-or-treating in Santa Ana on Halloween night was sentenced Thursday to a total of 15 years in state prison.
Jaquinn Ramone Bell, 32, was sentenced to 13 years and eight months in state prison after pleaded guilty in March to vehicular manslaughter for the hit-and-run crash in the 1400 block of East Fairhaven Avenue near Jacaranda Street. He was additionally sentenced to 18 months in jail for a probation violation, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Andrea Gonzalez and twin sisters Lexandra and Lexi Perez, all from Santa Ana, were in a crosswalk about 6:45 p.m. Oct. 31 when they were struck by a westbound Honda CRV. All three girls were pronounced dead at the scene.
Santa Ana police said Bell’s 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter were in the vehicle with him at the time of the crash.
Bell was on probation at the time of the crash for a drunken hit-and-run crash in Anaheim. Prosecutors said that since Bell fled the scene of the Halloween night crash, they could not charge him with driving under the influence, a factor that could have led to a murder charge and a possible life prison term.
Bell was not arrested until the day after the fatal crash.
Bell has a lengthy criminal record, dating back to a domestic violence case on Aug. 9, 2008. Bell admitted in a 2009 guilty plea that he “punched my wife…in the face, giving her a black eye,” according to court documents.
Bell was ordered to enroll in a one-year program for batterers with a “drug and alcohol component,” but according to court records, he was found to have violated probation several times over the years for failing to pay fines or fees, completing Caltrans service in lieu of jail time or participating in the court-ordered program.
In 2010, court records show he violated a protective order to stay away from his estranged wife, and was ordered to serve 30 days in jail and to participate in a program for domestic violence.
Most recently, Bell pleaded guilty Aug. 4 to child abuse and endangerment, driving under the influence of alcohol and hit-and-run with property damage, all misdemeanors. According to court records, Bell, who had been involved in a crash in Anaheim three days earlier, was sentenced to 10 days in jail, put on three years of informal probation and ordered to enroll in a child abusers treatment program.
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