Three accused of murdering Kiwi Trish McKay in California refuse to leave jail cells for court appearance

By Michael Daly of

Patricia and Doug McKay at a family function in November 2023.

The three men accused of murdering New Zealand woman Trish McKay in Newport, California have reportedly refused to leave their jail cells to attend a court appearance.

There is also said to be growing anger because one of the accused was free on probation, despite earlier similar convictions, including one in 2023 for a similar robbery.

Patricia McKay, 68, died outside a Newport Beach mall during an attempted robbery when she was hit by one of the alleged offenders’ cars last week.

Her husband was 69-year-old Doug McKay, a former chair of the BNZ board. They were both friends of Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

The three accused made brief appearances via video links from their cells on Monday (local time) after refusing to appear in court as required, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

The judge re-scheduled them to appear on Wednesday at a plea hearing, and ordered that they appear then.

Daily Mail reported the three accused, who were to have appeared before Judge Andre Manssourian in Orange County Superior Court, had “pulled the same stunt” for a scheduled hearing last Friday, refusing to move from their cells just 200 metres from the courtroom.

In their brief video appearance on Monday – which happened after sheriff” deputies got iPads to their jail cells – all three had been shirtless and none of them spoke, Daily Mail reported.

The judge on Monday had seemed puzzled as to why the three were not to brought to court, 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”.

The three accused could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted, but California has had a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty since 2019 and has not executed anyone since 2006.

The three murder accused are: Leroy Ernest Joseph McCrary, 26, the alleged driver of the car that hit McKay, also charged with attempted second-degree robbery, and evading while driving recklessly.

Jaden Cunningham, 18, also charged with attempted second-degree robbery.

Malachi Eddward Darnell, 18, who allegedly fired three shots at someone who chased after the fleeing car, is also charged with attempted murder and discharging a firearm, as well as attempted second-degree robbery.

LA Times described McCrary as a “third-striker” who had not served prison time for his most recent two convictions for felony crimes – more serious crimes in comparison to misdemeanours – in LA County.

Among his other previous convictions, McCrary had been given two years’ probation for an armed robbery, in which he and another suspect placed a gun to the head of a man while taking his Rolex watch, LA Times reported.

Asked to explain the lack of prison time for McCrary, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said in a statement that the case against McCrary had significant problems with proof.

– This story was first published by Stuff.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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