Dina Shacknai Begs Council for Review of Son's Death

By Lauren Steussy and Rory Devine
|  Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012  |  Updated 8:44 AM PDT
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Coronado City Council will not discuss reopening the investigation into Max Shacknai's death despite a public plea from the child's mother Dina Shacknai. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

Coronado City Council will not discuss reopening the investigation into Max Shacknai's death despite a public plea from the child's mother Dina Shacknai. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

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The mother of a boy who died in the Spreckels Mansion last summer stood before the Coronado City Council Tuesday and begged councilmembers to re-open the case of her son's death.

Dina Shacknai has disputed the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's classification of her son Max's death as an accident after he fell from the Coronado home's stairwell. She maintains that he was assaulted and killed, and has presented independent evidence that she says disputes the original manner of Max's death.

"I'm here to be the voice of Max Shacknai since he can no longer speak for himself," said Dina, the former wife of Jonah Shacknai, who owned the house.

She was tearful when she spoke to NBC 7 before the meeting, saying it was difficult to be back in Coronado, where she remembers spending every birthday with her son. She said it was the last place she told him she loved him.

After Max fell, he spent about a week in the hospital, but died as a result of his injuries. Days after Max's fall, Jonah's girlfriend Rebecca Zahau was found hanging naked from the home's balcony. Her death was ruled suicide, but her family also maintains that she was killed.

Click here for a timeline of events of the Spreckles death cases.

Dina also asked the Coronado Police Department to review the evidence her team of experts compiled that she says proves Max's death was a homicide.

The investigators detailed a scenario in a 29-page report in which Max was assaulted and then pushed over the stairwell. The only two people inside the mansion at the time of the fall were Rebecca and her teenage sister.

Police maintain that Max accidentally tripped over a second-flood railing and fell, hitting his forehead.

Dina's voice trembled as she spoke at the council meeting. She said that the sheriff's department's conclusion that Max fell over the banister by accident "defy laws of gravity."

The Coronado Police Department declined to change Max's death from accident to homicide.

Coronado's mayor said they would not re-open the case and will honor the police department's decision.

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