Coronado mansion death: Mother wants investigation reopened

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by Carina Sonn

azfamily.com

Posted on August 7, 2012 at 6:18 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 7 at 11:30 AM

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- The mother of a Valley boy who died at his father's Coronado, Calif. mansion is asking police to reopen the investigation into his death.

Coronado Police ruled the death of Max Shacknai, 6, an accident, saynig he fell down a set of stairs while in the care of his father's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau in July of 2011.

But on Monday, Dina Shacknai said private investigators whom she hired, have come to a different conclusion -- saying there's no way the small boy could've went over the second floor railing because his center of gravity was too low.

"Really it defied gravity. Max couldn't have gotten over the banister in the way that [they] said," said Dina Shacknai.

The private investigators also said Max's injuries weren't consistent with the kind of fall, police said he took.

"...injuries on his back, his forehead, his skull, his eye, his inner area of his eye, his back. That couldn't be explained by the evidence at the scene," said Shacknai.

Instead, the private investigators' report states, "... it would be more accurate to certify Max's manner of death as a homicide..."

It goes on to say that Max was "assaulted... pushed against or backed into the second story railing... he was then either lifted over the banister or escaped over the banister, falling down to the front entryway."

Under a section entitled, "Evidence and Indications Support Rebecca Zahau's Direct Involvement," the report states, in part, the following reasons:

-Her "apparent suicidal death...two days after the incident"

-Her "inconsistencies in her verbal reports about the incident"

-"Her comment to her sister that 'Dina's going to kill me.'"

"I didn't know when I started this process, where this would lead, and the findings... that this was an assault scenario and a homicide were the worst possible scenario," said Dina Shacknai. "

A lawyer for Zahau's family said the results are unfounded and that there was no foul play in Max's death. But they also want the investigation reopened, mainly for Rebecca Zahau - they believe she didn't commit suicide, but instead was murdered.

Authorities in Coronado say they've met with Dina Shacknai and the private investigators and plan on reviewing the findings.

"My instincts told me something wasn't right, however I didn't know what... as a mom, it's been the most gut-wrenching, soul-searing loss. I did this to find truth, to find justice for Maxie."

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