Suspects in the killing of tourists on Fashion Island could face the Death Penalty if convicted

The three suspects in the killing of a New Zealand tourist last week at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, California, could face the death penalty if convicted of murder under special circumstances.

After the July 2 incident, Leroy McCrary, 26, of Los Angeles; Malachi Darnell, 18, of Los Angeles, and Jaden Cunningham, 18, of Lancaster, California, were arrested and remain in jail. Their search was continued Wednesday until Aug. 1, because everyone is in medical custody, according to a spokesman for the Orange County district attorney, Todd Spitzer.

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A press release issued by his office described the incident at the outdoor shopping mall. Patricia McKay, 68, was waiting for a ride with her husband outside after shopping when a white Toyota Camry pulled up and two masked men jumped out and attacked McKay’s husband, 69, at putting a gun to his head and demanding his watch. . He was then said to have been tackled to the ground by the suspects as onlookers fled.

When the suspects were unable to find his property, Cunningham allegedly attacked McKay, who was carrying several shopping bags. He is accused of throwing McKay to the ground and dragging him into the street in front of the getaway car. Cunningham allegedly stole her shopping bags.

As McKay lay on the ground in front of the Camry, her husband jumped in front of the vehicle to try to prevent her from passing. McCrary is accused of accelerating into the Camry with Darnell in the vehicle, running over McKay and dragging her body 65 feet. Running to catch up with the car, Cunningham was chased by an unidentified Good Samaritan, who tried to stop him from getting back into the vehicle. Darnell is accused of firing a shot.

In addition to the special circumstance murder charge, McCrary is charged with one felony count of attempted second-degree robbery, and one felony count of evading while reckless driving. McCrary has prior felony convictions for residential burglary in 2018, criminal threats in 2020, and robbery in 2023, all in Los Angeles County, according to Spitzer’s office.

Darnell was also charged with one felony count of attempted second-degree robbery, one felony count of attempted murder, and one felony enhancement for personal use of a firearm and one felony enhancement for personal discharge of a firearm. Cunningham was also charged with one felony count of attempted second-degree robbery.

New Zealand Prime Minister Christoper Luxon shared his condolences with the McKay family “following the devastating loss of Trish” via social media platform X. McKay’s 69-year-old husband Doug was reportedly a former chairman of the Bank of New Zealand.

Media requests were not returned to Fashion Island and its owner the Irvine Co. back at press time on Wednesday. However, an Irvine spokesman acknowledged a media request Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Fashion Island general manager Gerard Widder posted on the company’s site, “Fashion Island joins the Newport Beach community in extending our deepest condolences to the McKay family. They will remain in our hearts and thoughts. We are also grateful for the quick response of the Newport Beach Police Department to this senseless crime and will continue to support local authorities in their investigation.” There was also an image of condolence typed for “Mrs. Patricia McKay” of Fashion Island and her trading community was displayed in a frame next to an all-white floral display placed outside next to a planter.

As Orange County’s premier shopping center, retailers include Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, AG, Allbirds and Dick’s Sporting Goods, as well as restaurants and other businesses.

In a press release, Spitzer said, “Our shopping centers and malls have become hunting grounds for criminals looking for innocent shoppers to rob them blind because of our governor. [Gavin Newsom] and our legislature refuses to hold anyone accountable for their actions. Actions have consequences and it shouldn’t have to result in the death of an elderly woman just enjoying a day of shopping with her husband for our elected leaders in Sacramento to realize that this is the result of their soft-on-crime policies that encourage. sacrificing crime and public safety. This is Orange County and we refuse to accept that this is the new normal. Criminals will be held accountable and violence will never be acceptable.”

Over the past two months in New York City, there have been a handful of incidents in which robbers targeted individuals for their luxury watches while dining at restaurants such as Carbone, Birds of a Feather and Marlow & Sons. Media inquiries to those firms were not returned Wednesday.

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