HomeNewsLocalArraignment Set for 3 Suspects in Newport Beach Robbery-Killing

Arraignment Set for 3 Suspects in Newport Beach Robbery-Killing

SANTA ANA (CNS) – Three men accused of carrying out a brazen attempted armed robbery at the Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach, then fatally running over the female victim — a 68-year-old tourist from New Zealand — are scheduled to be arraigned Monday on murder and other charges.

Leroy Ernest Joseph McCrary, 26, of Compton; Jaden Cunningham, 18, of Lancaster; and Malachi Eddward Darnell, 18, of Los Angeles; could potentially face a death sentence if convicted as charged. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will decide later whether to seek death sentences in the case, or life without the possibility of parole.

The defendants were charged Friday with murder, including a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery, along with a sentencing enhancement of killing a person over age 65.

McCrary — who prosecutors said has prior convictions for residential burglary in 2018, criminal threats in 2020 and robbery in 2023 — was also charged with felony counts of attempted second-degree robbery and evading while driving recklessly, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Darnell was additionally charged with second-degree attempted robbery and attempted murder, along with a sentencing enhancement allegation of personal use of a firearm and person discharge of a firearm.

Cunningham was also charged with attempted second-degree robbery.

All three are accused in connection with the robbery and killing that occurred around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the mall, leaving 68-year-old Patricia McKay dead in the parking lot.

The three defendants are being held without bail.

According to police and prosecutors, Darnell and Cunningham, both wearing masks, approached McKay and her husband as they were walking outside the Barnes & Noble store.

Prosecutors said one of the suspects put a gun to the head of McKay’s 69-year-old husband and demanded his watch as they forced him to the ground. When they were unable to get the watch, the suspects allegedly turned their attention to McKay, who was holding multiple shopping bags.

Cunningham allegedly dragged McKay into the street in front of a getaway car being driven by McCrary.

Prosecutors said McKay’s husband jumped in front of the vehicle in an effort 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.

Cunningham was still on foot and running toward the moving vehicle, chased by a good Samaritan, prompting Darnell to fire several shots from inside the car toward the pursuer. No one was struck by the gunfire.

Cunningham ultimately got into the vehicle, and the trio drove away.

The suspects led authorities on a pursuit north on the San Diego (405) Freeway. During the chase the driver pulled over in the Cypress area, and Cunningham jumped out of the car, but was later apprehended. The other two suspects continued the pursuit into South Gate, where they were both arrested.

Police said McKay’s husband was not seriously injured during the robbery. He has not been identified.

“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. Lawlessness and violence will not be tolerated in our society,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement.

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