Many people were horrified by the triple killing in Santa Ana when a man struck and killed three teenage trick-or-treaters on Halloween then fled the scene without stopping or calling for medical assistance. The police found the abandoned car with the help of a fast-thinking woman who followed the man. Police have now made an arrest and the accused has a long record of drunk-driving and hit-and-run. His name is Jaquinn Bell, 31.
Twin sisters Lexi and Lexandra Perez (both 13) and their friend Andrea Gonzalez were crossing within a cross walk when Bell allegedly hit them while speeding in his black Honda SUV. The woman who followed him said that he pulled into the parking lot of a Big Lots store about 800 yards from the crash site. Sharon Stewart, who cuts hair at a nearby barber shop, said that when they jumped out of the SUV she heard one of the men say “I only saw one guy, but I know there was somebody else.” According to some reports, he may have been driving with his two teenage children in the car.
Lexi Perez wanted to become a vet while sister Alexandra wanted to become a teacher. A memorial fund has been set up for the family.
A separate site has been set up for donations for Andrea Gonzalez.
Police worked about the clock to find the suspect who reportedly has various addresses. The car appears to belong to someone else. They finally found him with his family at a Motel 6. Tips helped the police make the collar.
Bell was booked for felony hit-and-run and felony causing death. It is not his first entry into the criminal justice system. His license was suspended for excessive alcohol on Oct. 4. There are also records that his license was either suspended or revoked on August 4th. In August, Bell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of child abuse, driving under the influence and hit-and-run with property damage. However, he was only sentenced to 10 days in jail with three years’ probation as well as alcohol and child abuse treatment programs. He also reportedly has prior convictions for reckless driving, spousal injury and violation of a protective order. He also has two outstanding bench warrants for $30,000. He is now being held on $500,000 bail.
At the time of his arrest, Bell’s 17-year-old son, 14-year-old daughter, mother and half-sister were detained but released. The question is whether there will be also charges for any other occupants in the car who fled the scene and may have helped Bell as accomplices or accessories “after the fact.” California has such a provision:
Every person who, after a felony has been committed, harbors, conceals or aids a principal in such felony, with the intent that said principal may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction or punishment, having knowledge that said principal has committed such felony or has been charged with such felony or convicted thereof, is an accessory to such felony.
Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed, an accessory is punishable by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.