A California man who allegedly killed his two autistic sons for financial gain has been charged with murder—and prosecutors haven't ruled out seeking the death penalty. Prosecutors say Hawthorne resident Ali Elmezayen deliberately drove his car off a Los Angeles wharf in 2015, Fox reports. He emerged through an open window and swam to safety. His domestic partner, Rabab Diab, was rescued by a fisherman who threw her a flotation device, but their two sons, 8-year-old Abdelkrim and 13-year-old Elhassan, drowned inside the vehicle. The severely autistic boys couldn't swim and were strapped in car seats. Prosecutors say the deaths were a double murder that Elmezayen plotted for more than two years. In 2012 and 2013, he spent around 20% of his income on life insurance policies.
Prosecutors say the 44-year-old—who initially denied taking out accidental death policies on his two sons—collected more than $260,000 in insurance payouts, which he wired back to his native Egypt. Elmezayen was arrested on insurance fraud charges last year and was already in federal custody when the Los Angeles District Attorney's office filed murder charges against him Wednesday, KTLA reports. He will be tried for murder when the federal insurance case concludes. After the deaths, Elmezayen claimed it was a "really bad accident" that happened after he took his family to watch the sunset and the car mysteriously "didn't stop." After the 1998 Honda Civic was recovered, police found that a brake pedal didn't work properly, but they couldn't determine whether the problem was caused by saltwater corrosion after the vehicle was in the water. (Read more California stories.)