Released Convicted Murderer Sentenced for Lake Forest Armed Robbery, Police Pursuit

After serving 20 years in prison for murder,  a 54-year-old man was sentenced to 44 years in prison for robbing a Lake Forest bank and then fleeing from police nearly two years ago, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Chandler Graham, of Los Angeles, was found guilty of second-degree robbery, assault with a firearm, evading while driving recklessly, unlawful taking of a vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon after he led police on a pursuit following an armed robbery on Sept. 21, 2015, according to a news release from the DA’s office.

Graham is accused of robbing a credit union in Lake Forest at gunpoint, officials said. He was wearing a disguise and “fled in a vehicle he did not have permission to drive,” the release stated.

A high-speed pursuit ensued along the northbound 5 Freeway, with Graham allegedly throwing the gun and stolen cash out of the window while his vehicle narrowly missed other cars and collided with the curb at one point, the DA’s office said. He allegedly ran through red lights and stop signs during the chase.

Graham was arrested in Tustin after he stopped the car in the road, with no one apparently injured during the pursuit.

The firearm and bank funds were recovered by police, the release said.

The incident took place four months after Graham was released from prison on parole. He was convicted of second-degree murder for a fatal head-on collision that happened during a high-speed chase in 1995, according to the release.

In that case, Graham was drinking in his car when a police officer approached him. He fled in his vehicle and led police on a pursuit, eventually crashing into the victim’s car.

The victim —  a father of three and great-grandfather — died in the collision. He was on his way to have lunch with his wife of 40 years when the crash occurred, officials said.  He and his wife were celebrating his last day of work before retirement.

Graham was released from prison 20 years later, in 2015, because the panel for the Board of Parole Hearings found that he “would not pose an unreasonable risk of danger or a threat to public safety if released from prison,” a news release from the O.C. DA’s office said.

The DA’s office said it opposed Graham’s release.