Los Angeles prosecutors have charged a Hawthorne man with murder, alleging he intentionally drove his family off a wharf, killing his two autistic sons.
The district attorney’s office said Wednesday that Ali Elmezayen faces two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, with a special circumstance allegation that the killings were carried out for financial gain.
Elmezayen has been in custody since November on insurance fraud charges. Prosecutors in that case say he purchased $6 million in insurance policies to cover his family in the event of an accidental death two years before the fatal 2015 crash.
A lawyer for Elmezayen could not be found.
Investigators say Elmezayen intentionally drove off a wharf in April 2015 with his wife and two children inside the car. The woman was rescued but the boys died.
Elmezayen, an Egyptian national, told investigators the crash was a tragic accident. He said he wasn’t sure how the car ended up in the water, but that he may have accidentally pressed the gas pedal or that “evil was inside him that caused him to lose his mind,” according to court documents.
The district attorney’s office declined to file charges against Elmezayen in 2017, citing a lack of evidence. But federal authorities pursued charges against Elmezayen last year, saying he intentionally drove his family off the dock to collect on accidental-death insurance policies he had taken out.
After his sons’ deaths, Elmezayen collected more than $260,000 in insurance proceeds, court records show.
Times staff writer Hannah Fry contributed to this report.