San Diego

Defiant Adam Shacknai Reacts to Spreckels Mansion Civil Verdict

A defiant Adam Shacknai expressed disappointment Thursday in the verdict of the wrongful death trial involving the death of his brother's girlfriend at a Coronado mansion more than six years ago.

"This ain't nothing," Shacknai said outside the San Diego courthouse downtown.

On Wednesday, jurors determined Shacknai was responsible for the death of Rebecca Zahau who was found hanging from the balcony at the Spreckels mansion in July 2011.

"I'm disappointed but I have plenty of fight in me," Shacknai said, adding that he has been living for years with false accusations. 

"I'm standing tall," he said. "I'm not afraid of these posers." 

Adam Shacknai is the brother of Zahau's former boyfriend, millionaire Jonah Shacknai, and was the last person to see Rebecca alive.

Jurors in the wrongful death lawsuit voted 9 to 3 on Tuesday that Shacknai's  actions caused Zahau's death. 

They determined Shacknai owed Zahau's mother, Pari Zahau, approximately $5,167,000 in damages. He has not been charged with a crime.

Watch the full verdict here.

The defense team was "absolutely astounded that a verdict could be rendered when there was not a single speck of evidence," defense attorney David Webb said.

"I have never represented anyone as a trial lawyer in my 40 year career that has ever undergone such an injustice to be completely innocent of anything wrong – I mean done nothing wrong, got on the witness stand, told the jury the truth – and yet now finds himself liable in connection with a wrongful death that he has nothing at all to do with," Webb said.

The defense team will pursue an appeal.

Webb also introduced Adam's girlfriend, Mary, who he described as one of the most normal, decent, caring people. 

Since Zahau, 30, was found dead more than six years ago, the Zahau family has fought the determination by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department that her death was a suicide.

On Thursday, Sheriff Bill Gore said he was surprised by the verdict and suggested that if new evidence was presented, his agency would consider reopening the case.

Sheriff's investigators' suggested 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.

The department has collected information regarding its efforts on a special website labeled "Coronado Death Investigation." 

Contact Us