The mother of the 6-year-old boy who died last summer in the Spreckels Mansion is now asking the case of her son’s death be reopened.
Max Shacknai was gravely injured on July 11, 2011 when he fell from a railing in the home's front stairwell and struck the carpeted floor face first, fracturing his forehead. He died a week later.
On July 14, Rebecca Zahau, the girlfriend of Max’s father Jonah, was found hanging nude from a second-story balcony at the home. In September 2011, the San Diego Sheriff's Department ruled Zahau's death a suicide.
More than a year later, a pathologist working for Max's mother Dina claims the little boy was killed, and "all support Zahau's direct involvement." Dina Shacknai announced on Monday in a statement that a team was hired to conduct their own investigation that began last year.
Two independent experts were also hired to assist with the examination.
“Things just didn’t add up to me, so I hired independent experts to review the findings,” Dina Shacknai said in a prepared statement. “When I started this process all I knew is that I wanted the truth, wherever that led, like any parent would.”
Forensic pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek contributed to the independent investigation, ultimately calling the manner of Max’s death "inaccurate."
“It would be more accurate to certify that manner as a homicide, where homicide is defined as death at the hands of another,” Melinek said in the statement.
Melinek said there is the possibility of a scenario in which Max was assaulted, leading to his fall from the balcony. The sheriff's department officially ruled Max's death an accident last year.
Dina Shacknai is not the only person to seek additional information following the Coronado Police Department’s conclusion of last July’s events. Jonah Shacknai asked California attorney general Kama Harris to review investigators' findings that his girlfriend killed herself by tying her wrists and ankles and hanging herself.
Zahau’s family also called for a statewide investigation. The family also appeared on two episodes of the afternoon television show "Dr. Phil" in November.
Dina Shacknai’s presented her team's findings to the Coronado Police Department last week.
“Even though nothing will bring my only child Maxie back, I owe it to him, as his mother, to make sure the true facts of his death are known,” she said in the statement. “It’s important that his story be told, because this could happen to anyone’s child.”
A police department spokeswoman said authorities will study this new challenge to their investigation, but has no comment about the new report.