With his 8- and 13-year-old sons, both severely autistic, in the back seat and their mother in the front, Ali F. Elmezayen sped off the San Pedro wharf on April 9, 2015, and into the harbor. The boys both died, and on Thursday, Elmezayen was sentenced to 212 years in prison for what the judge called an "evil and diabolical" plot. The 45-year-old was accused of murdering the boys and attempting to murder their mother, all to collect $3.4 million in insurance payouts. The judge noted that Elmezayen gradually accumulated the eight life and accidental-death policies and waited until the contestability periods on all of them had ended in an attempt to avoid suspicion, KTLA reports. The entire scheme took at least two years to carry out. He escaped through the window and left his family to die, though the boys' mother, who had filed for divorce in 2009 but remained living with Elmezayen, was able to get out.
Elmezayen had taken the family, minus the oldest son who was away at camp, to lunch and then to the wharf to buy fish. He told them he wanted to get a close look at a ship that was passing by, then went into the water at an estimated 30mph. He tried to claim the car malfunctioned and wouldn't stop, and he did end up collecting more than $260,000 in insurance money. It appeared for a time he might get away with it—the Los Angeles County district attorney's office declined to prosecute him in 2017, but federal authorities then took up the case. Prosecutors said they didn't have the jurisdiction to charge him with murder, but he was convicted of mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. The LA County DA's office ultimately did a 180 and charged him with capital murder and attempted murder; it is currently "evaluating the next step," a spokesperson tells the Los Angeles Times. (Read more California stories.)