3 men accused of murdering New Zealand tourist at California mall make first court appearance

Three Los Angeles County men accused of carrying out an attempted armed robbery at Fashion Island in which a 68-year-old New Zealand woman was dragged to her death under a getaway car made their first appearances on Wednesday afternoon in Orange County Superior Court.

During a brief hearing in a Santa Ana courtroom, Leroy Ernest Joseph McCrary, 26, Malachi Eddward Darnell, 18, and Jaden Cunningham, 18, spoke with their attorneys while standing in holding cells and waved to family members in the gallery, but did not enter formal pleas.

The three men have been charged with special circumstances murder after prosecutors allege they killed Patricia McKay during the commission of a robbery. That gives prosecutors the option of pursuing either life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

McKay and her husband were attacked while waiting to be picked up outside the upscale shopping center around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2.

A white Toyota Camry reportedly pulled up next to the couple and two men in masks — who prosecutors allege were Darnell and Cunningham — jumped out. Prosecutors say one of the masked men put a gun to the head of McKay’s husband, forced him to the ground and demanded his watch.

Prosecutors allege that Cunningham grabbed bags that McKay was holding, throwing her to the ground in the process and dragging her into the street in front of the Camry.

Despite the husband’s attempts to shield McKay, prosecutors allege that McCrary ran McKay over and dragged her body 65 feet.

According to prosecutors, Darnell had made his way back into the getaway car, but Cunningham was running toward the Camry, trying to catch up.

Beau Bayless, a Fountain Valley man who was visiting a former co-worker at the mall, attempted to stop Cunningham, “clotheslining” him and taking them both to the ground. Bayless later recalled having his hands on Cunningham’s shoulder and sweatshirt when a bullet went past his head.

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Prosecutors allege that Darnell had fired the gunshot, which did not strike Bayless. McCrary briefly slowed down, prosecutors say, allowing Cunningham to jump into the car.

Officers spotted the Camry on the northbound 405 Freeway. Cunningham, a …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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