Three men charged in attempted robbery that killed tourist at Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach make first court appearance

Three men charged in attempted robbery that killed tourist at Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach make first court appearance

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — The three men accused of murdering a New Zealand tourist appeared in court Wednesday for the first time since a botched robbery attempt at the Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach.

Arraignments for Leroy Ernest Joseph McCrary, 26, of Los Angeles, Malachi Eddward Darnell, 18, of Los Angeles, and Jaden Cunningham, 18, of Lancaster, were adjourned until Aug. 1.

They have been charged with murder and other offenses in the death of Patricia McKay, 68.

In addition to a special-circumstance murder charge, McCrary was charged with one count of attempted second-degree robbery and one count of fleeing while driving recklessly. McCrary has previous convictions for residential burglary in 2018, criminal threats in 2020 and theft in 2023, all in Los Angeles County, the release said.

Darnell was also charged with one count of attempted second-degree robbery, one count of attempted murder, one count of personal use of a firearm and one count of personal use of a firearm, the prosecutor’s office said. Cunningham faces one count of attempted second-degree robbery.

They face the death penalty if convicted of the charges.

According to police and prosecutors, Darnell and Cunningham, both wearing masks, approached McKay and her husband as they walked outside the Barnes & Noble store at Fashion Island last week.

A woman who was struck and killed by a suspect’s vehicle during a botched robbery in Newport Beach has been identified as a 68-year-old tourist from New Zealand.

One of the suspects pointed a gun at McKay’s 69-year-old husband’s head and demanded his watch as they forced him to the ground, prosecutors said.

After failing to retrieve the watch, the suspects reportedly turned their attention to McKay, who was holding several shopping bags.

Cunningham is accused of dragging McKay into the street in front of a getaway car driven by McCrary.

According to the prosecutor’s office, McKay’s husband jumped in front of the vehicle to try to protect his wife, but McCrary, with Darnell back in the vehicle, accelerated and forced the husband out of the way, then ran over McKay, trapping her under the vehicle and dragging her 65 feet.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. McKay’s husband was not seriously injured in the robbery, police said.

The suspects fled and were eventually arrested after a police chase through the area.

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