Testimony ends in Coronado mansion death lawsuit; closing arguments set for Monday

SAN DIEGO — Testimony wrapped up Tuesday in the trial of a lawsuit alleging that a woman found hanging bound and naked at an historic Coronado mansion didn’t commit suicide but was murdered by her boyfriend’s brother.

Authorities ruled that Rebecca Zahau committed suicide by hanging herself at her boyfriend’s Coronado mansion in 2011, a day after his 6-year-old son was critically injured in a fall at the home.  But Zahau’s mother and older sister have never accepted the official explanation of her death. They filed the wrongful death suit against Adam Shacknai, the brother of Jonah Shacknai, alleging the defendant confronted the 32-year-old Zahau a day after Max Shacknai fell from a second- story landing. The boy died five days later.

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

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

Adam Shacknai’s attorney, Dan Webb, countered 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 Shacknai said Zahau encouraged him to come to San Diego to support his brother at his time of need.

Jonah Shacknai testified during the monthlong trial that it is “inconceivable” that his younger brother had anything to do with Zahau’s death.

Jonah Shacknai testified that he was at Rady Children’s Hospital visiting 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 Shacknai testified. “I was speechless.”

Webb said four law enforcement agencies investigated Zahau’s death for two months and determined that she committed suicide.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.