Jonah Shacknai says brother harming his girlfriend is ‘inconceivable’

SAN DIEGO -- The boyfriend of Rebecca Zahau testified Thursday that it is "inconceivable" that his younger brother had anything to do with her death.

Jonah Shacknai, testifying in the trial of a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Zahau's family against 54-year-old Adam Shacknai, was asked if he had ever seen his brother be violent.

"Never," Jonah said. "It is inconceivable."

Zahau was found hanging from the balcony of Jonah's Coronado mansion the day after his 6-year-old son was critically injured in a fall at the home. Authorities ruled the death a suicide, but Zahau's attorneys allege that Adam confronted the 32-year-old a day after Max was injured.

Jonah testified that he was at Rady Children's Hospital visiting his son Max the morning of July 13, 2011, when he got a text from Adam asking him to call back.

"He asked me if I was sitting down and he told me Rebecca had taken her life," Jonah testified. "I was speechless."

Jonah said police told him not to go home to Coronado.

"I couldn't believe it," Jonah said of Zahau's death and his son's fight for his life. "It was unfathomable."

After Max fell from a second-story landing at the mansion on July 11, 2011, Jonah said he thanked Zahau for being there to care for his son after the accident.

Zahau's mother and older sister filed the wrongful death lawsuit against Adam, alleging he confronted the 32-year-old Zahau a day after Max was injured. The boy died five days later.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Keith Greer, alleged that Adam 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.

Greer said the plaintiffs should be awarded unspecified monetary damages for loss of companionship and emotional support.

Adam's attorney, Dan Webb, told the jury that there was no evidence that his client -- who has lived and worked in Memphis for 30 years -- had anything to do with Zahau's death. Adam said Zahau encouraged him to come to San Diego to support his brother at his time of need.

The attorney said four law enforcement agencies investigated Zahau's death for two months and determined that she committed suicide.