The woman once named as a suspect in the high-profile death inside a Coronado mansion spoke with NBC 7 exclusively Thursday, saying she feels vindicated now that her name has been removed from a wrongful death lawsuit.
"It's been a surreal nightmare for us," Dina Shacknai said.
Her son, Max, 6 died following a fall inside his father Jonah Shacknai's home, the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado. Max was just 6 years old on the day he fell - July 11, 2011.
Inside the home at the time of the fall was Jonah's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau.
Two days after Max's fall, Zahau was found nude, bound and hanging from the mansion's second-story balcony.
A $10 million civil lawsuit filed in 2014 claimed Zahau’s death was a murder, not a suicide as the San Diego County Sheriff's Department investigation concluded.
The lawsuit alleged Zahau was beaten, gagged and strangled before she was pushed off a balcony. The original suit named Dina Shacknai, her sister Nina Romero and Jonah's brother, Adam Shacknai, as defendants.
This week, the attorney for the Zahau family announced he was removing Dina Shacknai and Nina Romero from the suit based on images from security surveillance video that shows the women at a hospital at the time investigators determined Zahau died.
On Thursday, Dina Shacknai said she does not believe Zahau committed suicide. However, she's relieved that she has been exonerated.
“There’s relief, there’s overwhelming emotion, there is obviously a drive to move forward and a need to process what’s happened to us to include grieving for Max,” she said.
To those who may still question the death of Rebecca Zahau, she said she agrees more investigation should be done.
“If I were their family I would want those answers also,” she said. “Those pictures, it’s really hard to confirm or agree with the pronouncements made by the various agencies.”
She suggested the public ask questions of the Coronado Police Department, the Department of Justice and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
Those agencies, "are a really good start because I don't know if we have all of the information," she explained.
"I never thought it would happen to me so we should all be concerned for this, how this transpired," Shacknai said.