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Man faces 15 years to life for driving wife and dog into Big Bear Lake

A man who drove his car into Big Bear Lake — with his immobile wife and dog inside — was convicted of second-degree murder and animal cruelty.

The Press-Enterprise reports Ronald Hitchcock was convicted Tuesday and faces 15 years to life in prison when sentenced Feb. 28 at the San Bernardino Justice Center for the September 2012 incident.

The San Bernardino County district attorney says when Hitchcock drove the car into Big Bear Lake, he got himself out of the vehicle but his wife, Deborah Crouch, was suffering from serious health issues and unable to walk.

The district attorney says an autopsy determined Crouch drowned, but also found she had bruising all over her body consistent with physical violence and defensive wounds.

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