The San Diego Sheriff’s Department announced Monday it will re-examine Rebecca Zahau’s death based on new analysis of the evidence presented at her recently concluded wrongful death trial.
The department stressed that while no new evidence was presented, it will assign deputies who have never worked on the case to review new analysis presented at the trial.
The review is expected to take about 90 days to complete, Capt. Mike McClain said.
The department agreed to re-examine the case after a “productive conversation with the family’s attorney,” he said.
“When our investigation is complete, we will meet with the family’s attorney to discuss our findings,” McClain said. “Ultimately, the cause and manner of death, in any case, is determined by the Medical Examiner.”
The Medical Examiner’s Office is independent of the Sheriff’s Department, he said.
A jury on April 4 found Adam Shacknai, Zahau’s billionaire boyfriend’s brother liable for her death. The jury awarded more than $5 million in damages to Zahau’s mother.
The Sheriff’s Department and the Medical Examiner’s Office both said Zahau committed suicide by hanging herself at a Coronado mansion in 2011 following the death of Max Shacknai, the 6-year-old son of her boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai.
Zahau’s mother, Pari Zahau, and older sister, Mary Zahau-Loehner, rejected the suicide finding and filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2013 against Shacknai’s brother, Adam, claiming the defendant confronted and battered Zahau the day after his nephew fell.
Jonah Shacknai — a pharmaceuticals tycoon from Arizona — testified during the six-week trial that it was “inconceivable” that his younger brother had anything to do with Zahau’s death.
Adam Shacknai had vowed to appeal the verdict. He said he had nothing to do with Zahau’s death. He said he was staying in the guest house at his brother’s mansion the night of July 12, 2011, after traveling to San Diego from his home in Memphis to be with his brother after Max’s accident.
Adam Shacknai said he emerged from his room early the next morning and saw Zahau’s nude body hanging from the balcony. He said he called 911, cut Zahau down and tried to give her CPR, then called his brother to tell him his girlfriend was dead.
City News Service contributed to this report