Halloween hit-and-run driver who killed 3 girls is sentenced to prison

Orange County driver sentenced in Halloween hit-and-run case

The driver in a Halloween hit-and-run that left three Santa Ana girls dead in a crosswalk was sentenced Thursday to slightly more than 15 years behind bars. 

The girls, two of whom were twins, were trick-or-treating in the neighborhood where they lived when Jaquinn Bell sped through the intersection.

Police later found his abandoned car. He was arrested several days later at a motel where he had apparently been living.

In the aftermath of the crash last year, the city is planning to install a "flashing beacon" at the intersection, which pedestrians will be able to light up by pushing a button to warn drivers they are crossing, Santa Ana spokeswoman Alma Flores said. 

Bell, 32, pleaded guilty in March to three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, one felony count of hit and run with permanent and serious injury and one misdemeanor count of driving when privilege suspended or revoked, according to online court records.

Bell also pleaded guilty to three felony counts of fleeing an accident scene, the Orange County Superior Court records show.

The charges yielded 13 years and eight months in state prison and six months in jail, according to statement from the Orange County district attorney's office.

Bell received an additional 18 months in jail for violating his probation following an August 2014 conviction of hit-and-run driving, child abuse and endangerment and driving under the influence, according to the District Attorney's office. 

In that case, Bell was ordered to serve 18 days in jail plus three years of probation and to enroll in both an alcohol abuse and child abuse treatment program, court records show.

Bell has a years-long criminal history, including a 2009 conviction for domestic violence. He violated his probation seven times, typically receiving short jail terms and orders to attend substance-abuse and child-endangerment treatment programs.

On Halloween night, Bell drove through a Santa Ana neighborhood with his two teenage children in the car.  

Twins Lexia and Lexandra Perez and their friend Andrea Gonzalez, who were all 13 years old, were crossing the road at Old Grand Street and Fairhaven Avenue around 6:45 p.m. when they were struck in the crosswalk. They died at the scene.

Flowers and signs were piled at the street corner in the girls' memory following the crash. Hundreds attended funeral services the week after.

emily.foxhall@latimes.com

For more Orange County news, follow @emfoxhall on Twitter.

 

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