Suspect sentenced to 15 years in Santa Ana hit-and-run that left 3 trick-or-treaters dead

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A hit-and-run driver was sentenced to 15 years Thursday for killing three 13-year-old girls who were trick-or-treating in Santa Ana on Halloween last year.

Through tears, the families of Andrea Gonzalez and twin sisters Lexandra and Lexi Perez-Huerta implored a judge to hand down the maximum sentence to 32-year-old Jaquinn Ramone Bell.

The suspect pleaded guilty in March for hitting and killing the three 13-year-old girls on Halloween in Santa Ana in 2014, and then fleeing the scene.

Twins Lexi Perez-Huerta and Lexandra Perez-Huerta and their family friend Andrea Gonzalez were fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver in Santa Ana Friday, Oct. 31, 2014.

The 13-year-old girls were trick-or-treating in the 1400 block of East Fairhaven Avenue when they were struck by Bell's black 2001 Honda CRV.

Santa Ana police say Bell's two teenage children were in the car, and he was driving with a suspended license.

"He is deeply and intensely remorseful for his behavior," said Frank Bittar, Bell's public defender.

While family members of the victims made emotional statements, Bell appeared upset at times, putting his head into his hands. The judge called his actions "unconscionable," and then handed down the maximum sentence for the charges of vehicular manslaughter - 13 years and eight months in state prison.

The family of the victims wanted harsher charges. At the time of the crash, Bell was on probation for a previous hit-and-run crash while driving under the influence.

Jaquinn Ramone Bell, 31, was arrested in connection to a hit-and-run crash that killed three 13-year-old girls in Santa Ana on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014.

Prosecutors couldn't prove Bell was drinking on Halloween because he was found and arrested a day later.

"I share the frustration of the families and a lot of the people in the community, that when somebody flees the scene, you can't determine whether or not there was more at play," Deputy District Attorney Keith Burke said.

The families says no matter the sentence, it won't bring their girls back.

"He can stay there for 10 lifetimes and he wouldn't even be able to pay for what he took from us, from what he took from Andrea, from Lexi and Lexandra," said Brenda Gonzalez.

The judge also sentenced Bell to two additional years in county jail - the maximum for violating his probation.
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arresthit and runhalloweencrashchildren hit by carorange county newssentencingSanta Ana
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