Zahau death lawsuit: San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office official to testify

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - An official who worked with the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office during the investigation into the death of Rebecca Zahau is expected to testify Monday in the civil trial.

Zahau’s body was found hanging from the balcony at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado on July 13, 2011. The 32-year-old’s death was ruled a suicide following a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department/Medical Examiner’s Office investigation.

At the time, investigators said Zahau took her own life two days after Max Shacknai, the 6-year-old son of her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai, was seriously injured at the mansion while under her care. The little boy died from his injuries several days later.

Over the years, Zahau’s family has insisted she was a murder victim. They filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Adam Shacknai -- the brother of Zahau’s boyfriend -- accusing him of being responsible for her death.

Adam Shacknai told investigators he removed Zahau’s body from the balcony about 6:45 a.m. the morning of July 13, 2011. In testimony, Shacknai, who was staying in the mansion’s guest house at the time, said he called 911.

Investigators found her body on the ground, her hands and feet bound with red rope. The same red rope was discovered hanging over the balcony.

Zahau family attorney Keith Greer alleged Shacknai delivered four blows to the head of Zahau, rendering her partially or fully unconscious. Greer also alleged that the defendant sexually assaulted Zahau, tied her hands and feet, put a noose around her neck and threw her body off a second-story balcony.

Adam Shacknai has denied the accusations against him, and his older brother testified that it was “inconceivable” that he had anything to do with Zahau’s death.

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