San Diego

Closing Arguments in Mysterious Death at Spreckels Mansion

On July 13, 2011, Rebecca Zahau was found hanged at the home belonging to her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai. Jonah Shacknai's brother, Adam found her and called 911.

Jurors will soon deliberate whether Rebecca Zahau was murdered and left hanging from the balcony of a Coronado mansion in 2011.

Attorneys presented closing arguments in the wrongful death trial of Adam Shacknai on Monday.  

Zahau's family filed the $10 million civil suit claiming that her death was not a suicide as determined following an investigation by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Attorney Keith Greer outlined several key pieces of evidence he says prove Shacknai, 55, is responsible for Zahau's death.

Zahau was found dead at the Spreckels mansion more than six years ago.

Adam Shacknai called 911 on July 13, 2011, and reported the death as a suicide, plaintiffs' attorney Keith Greer said. He argued that no one would look at a woman in Zahau's state — nude, bound and hanging from a balcony — and say the woman killed herself.

Defense attorney Dan Webb told jurors that law enforcement officers had already investigated the case, adding his client had nothing to do with it.

"Adam Shacknai's fingerprints were found nowhere," he said.

Among the evidence presented by the plaintiffs was a handwriting expert who examined a cryptic message "She saved him can you save her?" and testified that based on his analysis, he believes with a degree of certainty that the writing on the wall was more than likely painted by Adam Shacknai.

A large chef's knife found in the guest bedroom of Spreckels Mansion has Zahau's fingerprints on both sides of the blade but none on the wooden handle, a forensic expert testified.

Jonah Shacknai testified he and Zahau enjoyed boating together, which the defense credited for her apparent knowledge of tying nautical knots -- like the ones tied in the rope that suspended her hanged body. 

Zahau's family sued to have the case reopened in 2013. 

They criticized the sheriff's investigators' theory that Zahau herself tied a series of intricate knots on her hands behind her back, put the noose over her head and propelled herself off the mansion's balcony. 

Sheriff's investigators even released a video that they say shows how it can be done.

Jonah Shacknai testified in a deposition that his company's stock prices were "under siege" because of the death investigation, Greer said. Jonah Shacknai was founder and CEO of Medicis, a pharmaceutical company based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Jonah Shacknai's company was sold to another pharmaceutical company in September 2012 for $2.8 billion.

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