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Suspects in killing outside Newport Beach’s Fashion Island mall appear in court

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The three men facing murder charges in the killing of a 68-year-old woman in a botched robbery attempt outside Newport Beach’s Fashion Island mall appeared in court Wednesday.

Patricia McKay, who was visiting from New Zealand, was with her husband just outside the mall, near Santa Rosa Drive and Newport Center Drive, as they waited for a ride after shopping the afternoon of July 2, according to prosecutors. Two men wearing masks jumped out of a white Toyota Camry that pulled up next to the couple and they tried robbing her husband, putting a gun to his head as they demanded his watch, prosecutors said. They weren’t able to get it so they then turned their attention to McKay.

Prosecutors say her 69-year-old husband tried rescuing her but she ended up getting killed. She was pronounced dead in the parking lot just outside the Barnes and Noble bookstore at the mall.

The three suspects in a botched robbery that led to the killing of Patricia McKay, a 68-year-old tourist from New Zealand, appear in Orange County Superior Court.


Malachi Eddward Darnell, 18, and Jaden Cunningham, 18, are accused of being the two men who first approached and attacked the couple, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Cunningham allegedly threw McKay to the ground and tried stealing her shopping bags. Then, he allegedly dragged her into the street and in front of a getaway car being driven by the third suspect: Leroy Ernest Joseph McCrary, 26. 

McKay’s husband jumped in front of the car to try saving her but prosecutors allege McCrary then accelerated forward — pushing her husband to the side and running her over. The car dragged her body 65 feet, prosecutors said. 

At the time, Darnell was allegedly inside the car with McCrary. As the car dragged McKay, prosecutors say, Cunningham was trying to catch up with the getaway car but a Good Samaritan tried stopping him. Darnell allegedly fired shots out of the vehicle at the Good Samaritan while McCrary allegedly slowed down so Cunningham could get back in the car before they all fled.

Witnesses just outside the shopping center said everyone tried to take cover after hearing three to four gunshots.

After fleeing the scene, the three suspects then led authorities on a chase that traveled into Los Angeles County, reaching speeds up to 110 mph on the westbound 105 Freeway, authorities said.

With the suspects jumping out of the car near Los Alamitos, and later South Gate, they were all eventually taken into custody.

They appeared in Orange County Superior Court Wednesday but their arraignment was postponed until Aug. 1.

They have all been charged with murder, with a special allegation of murder in the commission of a robbery with a potential felony sentencing enhancement for causing the death of an elder over the age of 65.  

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