Sheriff Gore ‘surprised’ by Rebecca Zahau civil case verdict

SAN DIEGO – San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Thursday his team would be willing to relook at the Rebecca Zahau death investigation if new evidence was presented.

Gore spoke to FOX 5 a day after a jury awarded more than $5 million in damages to the mother of a woman who sheriff's investigators said committed suicide by hanging herself at a Coronado mansion in 2011.

"I'd say I'm rather surprised at the verdict. There's just no physical evidence or eye-witness evidence to tie Adam Shacknai to this murder," Gore said. "There is no DNA, no fingerprint. It's interesting that Mr. Greer turned that theory that the crime scene was wiped clean of all of the physical evidence which is really difficult to do in this scientific age."

Gore maintained that he has always been open to reviewing the case and meeting with the Zahau family and their attorney Keith Greer.

"I'd talk to Mr. Greer about it and what he has to offer. If there was something we missed or misinterpreted by our homicide detail or the medical examiners, I'd be more than happy to reopen it," Gore said.

Zahau, 32, was found dead two days after her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai's 6-year-old son, Max, fell from a second-story landing at the Spreckels mansion in Coronado. The boy died five days later.

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.

Greer, alleged that Adam Shacknai delivered four blows to Zahau's head, rendering her partially or fully unconscious. Greer also claimed 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 a phrase scrawled on a bedroom door with black paint that read "She saved him, can he save her," was written by Adam Shacknai.

After less than a day of deliberations, jurors found that the 54-year- old defendant touched and battered Zahau before her death with the intent of harming her.

Jurors awarded Pari Zahau more than $5 million for loss of comfort and companionship and loss of money that the victim would have given to support her mother.

Greer said a second phase of trial in which the jury would consider punitive damages might not be necessary.