Suspect in brutal shopping mall murder got no jail time from left-wing prosecutor after previous felony arrest: Report

One of the suspects accused of brutally murdering a 68-year-old woman outside a posh mall in Newport Beach last week reportedly got no jail time from the office of left-wing Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón after a previous felony arrest.

Citing interviews and records it reviewed, the Los Angeles Times reported that the murder suspect in question — 26-year-old Leroy Ernest Joseph McCrary — was placed on probation for stealing a Rolex at gunpoint in Santa Monica in 2022, avoiding prison time after L.A. County prosecutors agreed to a three-year suspended sentence.

The Times added that Nathan Hochman — Gascón’s opponent in this November’s election — said Gascón’s ‘malpractice appears to have cost another life.’

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said McCrary on July 2 ran over New Zealander tourist Patricia McKay and dragged her body 65 feet amid a violent robbery of the victim and her 69-year-old husband at the Fashion Island mall, adding that McCrary is eligible for the death penalty if convicted of a special circumstances murder charge.

Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

McCrary faces additional felony charges of attempted second-degree robbery and evading while driving recklessly, the Orange County DA’s office said, adding that he has prior felony convictions for residential burglary, criminal threats, and robbery, all in Los Angeles County.

The Times noted the following in regard to the 2022 incident:

Santa Monica Police Lt. Erika Aklufi said surveillance video in that case showed McCrary putting a handgun to the head of a man on Broadway. He and an accomplice demanded the man’s watch, she said.

McCrary’s DNA also was recovered from the victim’s shirt, which he’d grabbed during the robbery, police said.

Prosecutors charged McCrary, who had been arrested by L.A. police a month later, and Donta Baker with robbery in the Santa Monica case based on the DNA evidence, according to court records reviewed by The Times.

The Times said McCrary pleaded no contest in 2023 to one count of robbery, after which L.A. County Superior Court Judge Cathryn Brougham sentenced him to three years. But the paper said Brougham suspended the sentence and placed McCrary on two years’ probation, also ordering him to complete 200 hours of community service.

The Times added that McCrary’s suspended sentence ran concurrent with another suspended sentence following a conviction for possessing a gun as a felon in a separate case the LAPD investigated.

The paper said that while Brougham ordered the completion of a probation report before McCrary’s sentencing, courthouse clerks could find no report upon the Times’ request. Probation reports typically provide sentencing recommendations along with defendants’ probation suitability, the paper added.

The Times reported that L.A. County prosecutors defended their handling of the case related to stealing a Rolex at gunpoint, a case which officials said “had significant problems with proof.”

More from the paper:

A spokesperson in the district attorney’s office said an inability to identify the defendant in the surveillance video hampered the case. Two witnesses were unable to identify the suspects, the spokesperson said, noting that the robber’s face was not shown in the video because he was wearing a mask.

She also said that prosecutors were unable to identify the item in the suspect’s hands, and that a confirmatory DNA test was never conducted on the robbery victim’s shirt, which called into question its accuracy.

“As a result of these issues, the management team … authorized a plea offer that allowed [him] to be placed on probation with a suspended state prison sentence,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement, the Times reported.

Opponents of Gascón told the paper that the handling of the case demonstrates how his office has been mismanaged. The Times added that Nathan Hochman — Gascón’s opponent in this November’s election — said Gascón’s “malpractice appears to have cost another life.”

Anything else?

The two other suspects in last week’s brutal killing in Newport Beach are Malachi Darnell and Jaden Cunningham, both 18, the Orange County DA’s Office said.

(L to R) Jaden Cunningham; Malachi DarnellImage source: Orange County (Calif.) District Attorney’s Office

The DA’s office said McKay and her husband were waiting for a ride after finishing shopping at the mall when a white Toyota Camry pulled up next to the couple. The DA’s office said two masked suspects — later identified as Darnell and Cunningham — jumped out and attacked McKay’s husband, putting a gun to his head and demanding his watch as they forced him to the ground as bystanders ran away.

When the pair couldn’t get the husband’s property, Cunningham is accused of throwing McKay to the ground, stealing her shopping bags, and dragging her into the street in front of the getaway car, which McCrary was driving, the DA’s office said.

With McKay lying in front of the Camry, McKay’s husband jumped in front of the vehicle in an effort to stop his wife from being run over, but McCrary is accused of accelerating forward with Darnell in the vehicle, pushing McKay’s husband out of the way, and running over McKay and dragging her body 65 feet, the DA’s office said.

While McCrary was dragging McKay under the car, Cunningham was running to try to catch up to the getaway car, the DA’s office said, adding that a good Samaritan tried to stop Cunningham from getting back into the vehicle. Darnell is accused of shooting from the getaway car at the good Samaritan, the DA’s office said, adding that McCrary is accused of slowing down to allow Cunningham to jump back into the getaway vehicle, after which McCrary drove away.

The DA’s office said Darnell and Cunningham also are eligible for the death penalty if they are convicted of the special circumstances murder charges. Darnell also has been charged with second-degree attempted robbery, attempted murder, and felony enhancements of personal use of a firearm and personal discharge of a firearm, the DA’s office said, adding that Cunningham also has been charged with one felony count of attempted second-degree robbery.

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