A 31-year-old man arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run driving in the Halloween collision in Santa Ana that left three girls dead has a years-long criminal history and was driving on a suspended license, court records show.
Jaquinn Bell, a resident of Orange, was arrested Sunday outside a Motel 6 in Stanton, Santa Ana police said at a Monday news conference. He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Court records in Orange County Superior Court show that Bell was convicted of hit-and-run driving and driving under the influence in August.
He was sentenced to 10 days in jail, ordered to serve three years of probation and enroll in both an alcohol abuse and child abuse treatment program, court records show.
In the deadly crash on Halloween night, police said that Bell was driving with his two children, a 17-year-old boy and 14-year-old daughter.
Police said they are attempting to determine whether Bell was driving under the influence at the time of the Friday night incident.
Police said they initially detained Bell’s mother and half-sister as well as his two children in connection with the incident but subsequently released everyone but Bell.
Bell’s criminal record dates back until at least 2009 when he pleaded guilty to corporal injury on a spouse or co-habitant and was given probation, which court records show has been revoked seven times since then.
The probation violations included a 2009 case in which he was charged with driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license. He was again given probation after he pleaded guilty the following year, court records show.
In 2010, he pleaded guilty to violating a protective order and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and probation and was ordered to complete a treatment program for batterers, court documents show.
His probation was revoked and then reinstated several additional times in the subsequent years, including for his August arrest for hit-and-run driving and driving under the influence.
His driver’s license was suspended in early October – 17 days before the crashed that killed the three trick-or-treaters in Santa Ana.
Twin sisters Lexia and Lexandra Perez and their friend, Andrea Gonzales, were struck crossing the road at Old Grand Street and Fairhaven Avenue on Friday at about 6:45 p.m.
Investigators said they later found the suspected car, a Honda CR-V, abandoned in the parking lot of a nearby Big Lots store. Police said the driver and passenger had fled.
Police announced late Sunday morning that they had made several arrests in the case, but declined to release the names of the suspects or details of the case.
Andrea’s brother, Josafat Gonzalez, 21, said of the arrests: “It won’t bring my sister back, but the people who committed such a terrible crime will get their time in court and justice will be served.”
Early Monday at Fairhaven Elementary School, near where the incident occurred, the street corner was covered in bouquets of flowers, candles and a plastic Halloween candy bowl containing lighters to help keep the candles burning.
Some came to pay their respects, one person making the sign of the cross over his body. The city manager of Santa Ana and other city employees stopped at the makeshift memorial.
Half-brothers Shane Chesser and Wayne Flynn looked on from the front yard of their house down the street.
They said they hadn’t been sleeping well since the incident, they said, and the bowl of Kit Kats, Snickers and other Halloween treats they’d planned to hand out was still full. The trick-or-treaters had stopped arriving after the incident, they said, and then they took down the fake gravesite decorations from in front of their home.
“All Halloweens will be different, that’s for sure,” said Flynn, 31.
It was a particularly deadly weekend in Orange County, where a total of five pedestrians and cyclists were struck and killed since Halloween night.
In Irvine, a father and son were hit in a crosswalk while trick-or-treating Friday night. John Roger Alcron, 65, died from injuries while his 4-year-old son was listed in critical condition. Authorities said the driver in the case cooperated with police and was released after questioning.
On Saturday, 44-year-old Daniella Palacios was struck and killed in Anaheim while riding her bike. The incident occurred about 9 p.m. near the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and La Palma Avenue, said police Lt. Bob Dunn. A witness told officers they saw a white pickup flee after the incident.
Anyone with information on any of the incidents is asked to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) 847-6227 (TIP-OCCS).