A jury in San Diego has found Adam Shacknai responsible for the death of his millionaire brother’s Burmese girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, who was found naked, bound, and hanged in a Coronado, California mansion in July 12, 2011.
After deliberating for less than a day, jurors found that Adam Shacknai, who is now 54, touched and battered Zahau before her death with the intent to harm her, Fox 5 San Diego reported.
On Wednesday, Zahau’s mother, Pari Zahau, was awarded more than $5 million in damages, including loss of comfort and companionship and loss of money that the victim would have given to support her mother.
Authorities initially ruled the 32-year-old’s death a suicide, but Pari and Rebecca’s sister, Mary Zahau-Loehner, have always believed that she was murdered.
“For seven years, we had to fight to prove she didn’t commit suicide,” Zahau-Loehner said after hearing the verdict. “My sister was brutally murdered.”
Keith Greer, the Zahaus’ attorney, said that Adam Shacknai struck the victim in the head four times before she became unconscious. Greer also claims that the defendant sexually assaulted Zahau, bound her hands and feet, put a noose around her neck and threw her body off a balcony on the second floor.
Greer added that the phrase “She saved him, can he save her” found at the scene was allegedly written by Adam Shacknai in black paint on a bedroom.
However, he testified that he had nothing to do with Zahau’s death, claiming that he was at his brother’s mansion after traveling from his Memphis home to San Diego to be with his brother, pharmaceutical tycoon Jonah Shacknai, whose 6-year-old son, Max Schacknai, had fallen from a second-story landing.
Adam Schaknai said he saw Zahau’s naked body hanging from the balcony the following morning. He claims he called 911 before cutting the woman down to give her CPR and calling his brother to tell him of the grim news.
Jonah Shacknai told jurors during the six-week civil trial that it was “inconceivable” that his younger brother killed Zahau.
Greer said the punitive damages phase of trial might not be necessary. Zahau-Loehner hopes that Adam Shacknai will be criminally charged in the case.