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Zahau family files legal complaint ahead of 10-year death anniversary

Posted at 5:52 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 09:54:52-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Tuesday, July 13, marks 10 years since the death of Rebecca Zahau at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, and her family is still insisting she did not take her own life.

Zahau family attorney Keith Greer filed a 153-page complaint on Monday, asking the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to release investigation documents about the case.

"We’re concerned that what the sheriff did is lie to the public, make it appear like he was still working on this and looking at the case when really he was telling his people don’t do," said Greer.

Zahau was found dead, hanging from a balcony at the mansion in 2011. She was naked, with her hands and feet bound, and gagged.

The family attorney says they have new evidence in the case that he says came during the wrongful death trial of Adam Shacknai.

Authorities say Adam Shacknai was the one who found Zahau dead. Greer says Shacknai's own testimony of how he found Zahau and cut her down from where she was hanging proves he hasn't been honest.

"That the rope was only about 86 inches about the ground and we showed at trial that you could stand flatfooted and cut her down you didn’t need to get on the table, in fact if he had been on the table he would have had to bend over to cut her down," says Greer.

Shacknai was staying at the mansion, owned at the time by his brother Jonah, Zahau's boyfriend.

Just two days before her death, Zahau had been babysitting Jonah's son, Max, when he fell down a staircase at the house. The young boy died days later.

Zahau's death was ruled a suicide, but her family has always disagreed with the findings.

In 2018, jurors found Adam Shacknai liable for her death, but he has always maintained his innocence.

Eight months after the civil trial, the sheriff's department said they would not reopen the death case after a review where, they say, they found no evidence that she died at the hands of another.

ABC 10News did reach out to the sheriff's department for comment, but so far have not heard back.