Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Three men accused of killing elderly woman at upscale Newport Beach shopping mall refuse to leave their jail cells to face murder charges in court

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Three men accused of killing an elderly woman tourist during a robbery outside an upscale shopping mall in Newport Beach, CA, defied a judge Monday, refusing to leave their jail cells and go to court to face murder and other charges.

Leroy McCrary, 26 and Malachi Darnell, 18, both of LA, plus Jaden Cunningham, 18, of Lancaster, CA were scheduled to appear at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana to be arraigned and enter guilty or not guilty pleas.

But none of them showed up in defiance of Judge Andre Manssourian who ordered them to appear after they pulled the same stunt for a scheduled hearing last Friday, refusing to budge from the jail where they’re being held, just 200 yards away from the courtroom.

The three – all shirtless – did make brief video appearances in court Monday after Orange County Sheriff’s deputies managed to get iPads to their jail cells.

None of them spoke and Judge Manssourian scheduled another arraignment and plea hearing Wednesday ordering the men – again – to show up. 

Leroy McCrary, 26, appears in court from his cell for the killing and robbery of Patricia McKay in Orange County Superior Court on July 8, 2024 in Santa Ana, California

Jaden Cunningham, pictured, also declined to leave the jail to show up to court Monday, only appearing virtually thanks to an iPad brought to his and his alleged co-conspirators' cells

Malachi Darnell, 18, was scheduled to be arraigned today along with McCrary and Cunningham, but did not voluntarily come to court

Jaden Cunningham, pictured left, and Malachi Darnell, right, also declined to leave the jail to show up to court Monday, only appearing virtually thanks to an iPad brought to their cells

The judge seemed puzzled as to why the three were not to brought to court Monday, saying he heard ‘something about a 24-hour psychiatric hold.’ and asking deputies to give him a report ‘in writing as to why they are not in court right now.’

‘I need to know if it’s a refusal or if it’s a psychiatric hold,’ he said.

The men are all charged with murdering New Zealand tourist Patricia McKay, 68, by running her over with a car and dragging her 65 feet after trying to rob her and her husband Douglas outside a Barnes and Noble store at Fashion Island mall.

The three – who could face the death penalty if convicted – are also accused of attempted second degree robbery.

In addition, Darnell is charged with attempted murder and discharging a firearm after allegedly firing a gun at a Good Samaritan who was trying to help the McKays during the incident July 2.

New Zealand woman Patricia 'Trish' McKay (left) was killed in front of her husband, prominent banker Doug McKay (right), at a shopping center in Newport Beach, California. The two were on vacation

New Zealand woman Patricia ‘Trish’ McKay (left) was killed in front of her husband, prominent banker Doug McKay (right), at a shopping center in Newport Beach, California. The two were on vacation 

Judge Andre Manssourian speaks during a court hearing for Jaden Cunningham, Malachi Darnell, and Leroy McCrary. He was puzzled as to why none of them showed up, adding that he heard it may have been because of 'a 24-hour psychiatric hold.¿

Judge Andre Manssourian speaks during a court hearing for Jaden Cunningham, Malachi Darnell, and Leroy McCrary. He was puzzled as to why none of them showed up, adding that he heard it may have been because of ‘a 24-hour psychiatric hold.’

And McCrary – who cops say led them on a high-speed 30-mile plus chase while fleeing the scene of the botched robbery – was also charged with evading police while driving recklessly.

Police say that Darnell and Cunningham, both wearing masks, jumped out of a white Toyota Camry driven by McCrary and accosted the McKays as they were walking outside the Barnes & Noble store.

One of the suspects allegedly put a gun to the head of Mr. McKay, 69, demanding his watch and forcing him to the ground.

When they couldn’t get the watch, say cops, the robbers turned on McKay, who was holding several shopping bags.

As McKay fought to hang on to the bags, Cunningham allegedly dragged her into the street in front of the white Toyota getaway car with McCrary at the wheel.

Prosecutors say Douglas McKay jumped in front of the vehicle to protect his wife, but McCrary, with Darnell back in the car, accelerated and forced the husband out of the way, then ran over McKay, trapping her under the vehicle and dragging her until she was dead.

Police arrested McCrary, pictured, after he was forced to hide behind trash cans between houses after the overweight narcotics addict ran out of puff fleeing cops following the fatal mall robbery

Police arrested McCrary, pictured, after he was forced to hide behind trash cans between houses after the overweight narcotics addict ran out of puff fleeing cops following the fatal mall robbery 

Trish McKay and her husband had been outside a Barnes & Noble bookstore at the Fashion Island mall when they were approached by two men. McCrary (above) and two teenagers were taken into custody after the men fled the scene

Trish McKay and her husband had been outside a Barnes & Noble bookstore at the Fashion Island mall when they were approached by two men. McCrary (above) and two teenagers were taken into custody after the men fled the scene

Cunningham was was still running toward the moving escape vehicle, trying to jump in and a Good Samaritan was chasing him, trying to stop him.

But, according to cops, the pursuer gave up the chase when Darnell fired three shots toward him from the Toyota and Cunningham got away with his two accomplices. Nobody was hit by gunfire.

The men fled north toward Los Angeles with the Toyota reaching speeds of up to 110mph, say police, who eventually were able to pull the car over and arrest all three.

The victim’s husband Douglas McKay – a prominent businessman and community leader in New Zealand’s capital, Auckland – was not injured in the incident.

Meanwhile Los Angeles County Sheriff George Gascon – and CA Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom – are facing a growing storm of anger over why one of the accused men – McCrary, 26, – was free on probation instead of behind bars for a string of earlier LA convictions, including one last year for a similar robbery.

Prosecutors say that before last week’s robbery and killing, McCrary had prior convictions for residential burglary in 2018, criminal threats in 2020, and robbery in 2023.

Leroy McCrary, pictured, has a criminal history including a chillingly similar hold up at a different upmarket beach community

Leroy McCrary, pictured, has a criminal history including a chillingly similar hold up at a different upmarket beach community 

General view of the Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach, California where the the McKays were targeted for robbery. It is generally considered a safe location

General view of the Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach, California where the the McKays were targeted for robbery. It is generally considered a safe location

The scene where the three men were pulled over after allegedly killing McKay. They were driving at speeds of up to 110mph, police say 

He pleaded no congest last year to the robbery charge plus another of being a drug addict in possession of a firearm. Yet he was only sentenced to two years probation and a three-year prison sentence was suspended, leaving him free on the streets.

‘Our shopping centers and malls have become hunting grounds for criminals who are stalking innocent shoppers to rob them blind because our Governor and our Legislature refuse to hold anyone accountable for their actions,’ blasted Republican Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer when he announced the charges against the three men.

He said that McKay’s murder was a crime ‘that should have never happened,’ adding, ‘Lawlessness and violence will not be tolerated in our society.’

Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill reacted with anger to the horrendous slaying of McKay, saying that McCrary ‘shouldn’t have been in free society’ because of his past crimes.

‘Frankly, to hell with these guys… These are thugs. Every community is now dealing with this. We have to do better as a society. We cannot tolerate this.’

Asked to explain why McCrary didn’t get jail time for his previous crimes, Gascon said in a statement that ‘the case against him had significant problems with proof’ so ‘the management team at the court authorized a plea offer that allowed him to be placed on probation,’ plus a prison sentence that was suspended.

DailyMail.com asked a spokesman for Orange County Superior Court if a judge there is empowered to order a jail inmate to be physically compelled to come to court for a scheduled appearance if he refuses to leave his cell but we have not yet received a response.

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