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    3 accused robbers face murder charges for tourist run over at Fashion Island in Newport Beach
    • July 5, 2024

    Three Los Angeles County men accused of taking part in an attempted armed robbery at Fashion Island in Newport Beach and dragging a 68-year-old New Zealand woman under a getaway car were charged on Friday, July 5, with special-circumstances murder.

    Prosecutors allege that Leroy Ernest Joseph McCrary, 26, Malachi Edward Darnell, 18, and Jaden Cunningham, 28, killed Patricia McKay on Tuesday, July 2, in the commission of a robbery — which Orange County District Attorney’s Office officials noted makes it a potential death-penalty case.

    McKay and her husband, just past 3:30 p.m., were waiting to be picked up after shopping.

    A white Toyota Camry pulled up next to them and two men in masks jumped out and attacked McKay’s 69-year-old husband, according to a DA’s Office release. One of the men put a gun to the husband’s head, forced him to the ground and demanded his watch, prosecutors said.

    The masked men — who prosecutors allege were Darnell and Cunningham — were unable to get the husband’s property. Prosecutors allege Cunningham then attacked the wife, who was holding shopping bags.

    As he grabbed the bags, prosecutors allege, Cunningham threw McKay to the ground, then dragged her into the street in front of the Camry, which they say was driven by McCrary.

    McKay’s husband jumped in front of the Camry in an attempt to protect his wife, prosecutors say.

    But they say that McCrary accelerated forward, forcing the husband out of the way.

    McKay was run over and her body dragged 65 feet, according to the DA’s Office.

    Darnell had already gotten into the Camry at that point, prosecutors say, while Cunningham was running toward it, trying to catch up.

    A good Samaritan tried to stop Cunningham, prosecutors say, but they allege that Darnell fired gunshots out of the vehicle at the person trying to help.

    McCrary briefly slowed down so Cunningham could jump aboard, prosecutors said. The good Samaritan was not struck by the gunfire.

    Officers spotted the car on the northbound 405 Freeway. During the pursuit, Cunningham bailed out on a surface street in Cypress, prosecutors say. McCray and Darnell were both in the Camry when police pulled it over in South Gate, prosecutors added.

    All three men were being held without bail. McCrary and Darnell are from Los Angeles, authorities said, while Cunningham is a Lancaster resident.

    Along with the special-circumstances murder charge and a sentencing enhancement for causing the death of a person more than age 65, the three men are facing attempted-robbery charges and other felonies.

    Prosecutors say that McCrary is a third-striker, following convictions in Los Angeles County for residential burglary, criminal threats and robbery.

    Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, in a statement, placed blame on “soft-on-crime policies” that “encourage criminality while sacrificing public safety.”

    “Our entire community extends its deepest sympathies to the loved ones of Patricia McKay and to the entire country of New Zealand as we mourn her senseless death in the commission of a crime that should have never happened,” Spitzer said. “Our shopping centers and malls have become hunting grounds for criminals who are stalking innocent shoppers to rob them blind because our governor and our Legislature refuse to hold anyone accountable for their actions.”

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    ​ Orange County Register 

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