The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office alleges that the killings were carried out for "financial gain"

By Robyn Merrett
July 17, 2019 11:59 PM
Ali Elmezayen's car

A father has been charged with capital murder after his two autistic sons tragically drowned when he drove his family off a Port of Los Angeles pier in California four years ago.

On April 9, 2015, Ali Elmezayen was driving with his wife and their sons — 13-year-old Elhassan and 8-year-old Abdelkrim — in San Pedro when he plunged into the water.

While at the time Ali said it was an accident, following an investigation, Ali was charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office revealed in a statement.

Ali also faces “special circumstance allegations of multiple murders” as it is believed the killings were carried out for “financial gain,” according to the statement.

Just before the incident, Ali had purchased several accidental death insurance polices worth more than $6 million on himself, his wife and their children, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a release.

Witnesses on the scene said they heard “tires of the car screech loudly and saw the car accelerate before it flew off the edge of the wharf, crashed into the water and immediately sunk,” FBI agent Matthew Parker wrote in an affidavit in November 2018, according to reporting by the Associated Press and U.S. News and World News Report.

RELATED: Calif. Mom Accused of Killing 12-Year-Old Son She Tried to Drown Before When He Was a Baby

Swimming out of the open driver’s side window, Ali quickly surfaced, according to the U.S. Attorney’s release. He paddled to the safety of a nearby ladder on the side of the pier, CBS News reported.

Unable to swim, his wife Rabib Diab, did her best to stay afloat as she frantically sought help for her children, screaming, “My kids, my kids!” the Associated Press reported.

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Diab was pulled out of the water by a nearby fisherman who threw her a flotation device, according to the release.

But the two boys, who were autistic, were unable to escape and drowned, the release states. According to the AP and CBS, the children were strapped into child seats.

The couple’s third son was away at camp, according to the AP.

Ali told investigators he may have accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake, the AP reported. He also cited medication he had taken for a blood condition two days earlier, Newsweek reported.

But federal prosecutors allege he spent several years preparing to set his deadly plan in motion.

“This case alleges a calculated and cold-hearted scheme to profit off the deaths of two helpless children,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in the release.

RELATED: 7-Year-Old Boy Dies in Hospital Days After Mom Allegedly Drowned Him and His 12-Year-Old Brother

After the children died, Ali collected more than $260,000 in insurance proceeds from two insurance companies on the accidental death insurance policies he had taken out on the children’s lives in 2012 and 2013, according to the release.

At this time, Ali is in federal custody on insurance fraud charges, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

“Once that case is completed, Ali will be tried on the murder charges.”

If convicted, Ali faces a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole or death. A lawyer for Ali could not immediately be identified.