Wrongful-death lawsuit against Dina Shacknai dropped, Zahaus' lawyer apologizes

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Dina Shacknai spoke at Thursday's new conference. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Dina Shacknai spoke at Thursday's new conference. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Rebecca Zahau, seen in this 2008 picture, was a certified technician at Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Rebecca Zahau, seen in this 2008 picture, was a certified technician at Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Max Shacknai (Source: Family photo via AP) Max Shacknai (Source: Family photo via AP)
Nina Romano (middle, in blue) and Dina Shacknai (right) at Thursday's news conference (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Nina Romano (middle, in blue) and Dina Shacknai (right) at Thursday's news conference (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SAN DIEGO (3TV/CBS 5) -

Lawyers for the family of a woman who was found naked, bound and gagged, hanging from the balcony of a Coronado Island, CA mansion in July 2011 hosted a news conference Thursday to update the death investigation, including related evidence that has been reviewed.

The family of Rebecca Zahau filed a lawsuit against Paradise Valley resident Dina Shacknai. Zahau was seeing Shacknai’s ex-husband, Scottsdale businessman Jonah Shacknai, when she died in what was ruled a suicide.

Zahau was found dead just two days after the Shacknais’ 6-year-old son, Max, fell over the banister of a staircase at the Coronado Island home. Max was in Zahau’s care at the time. He suffered injuries that would turn out to be fatal.

The Zahau family, never believing she killed herself, contended that Shacknai and her twin sister, Nina Romano, were involved in Zahau’s death and filed a lawsuit.

[RELATED: Zahau family files $10M wrongful-death suit, alleges murder (July 15, 2013)]

The lawsuit didn't provide any specific evidence, but it alleged that the "defendants planned and prepared to batter and murder Rebecca and did thereafter brutally, and with malice aforethought, stalk, attack, choke, bound and hang" Zahau at the mansion belonging to her billionaire boyfriend. 

Shacknai's lawyers called it "baseless and senseless."

[RELATED: Dina Shacknai's lawyers respond to lawsuit ruling (Oct. 23, 2014)]

Now, years later, the Zahau family says Shacknai and Romano, both of whom were present are innocent of any wrong-doing.

“We thought we had evidence to support the claims alleging that both Dina and Nina were involved in the death of Rebecca," Keith Greer, the lawyer for the Zahau family, said Thursday. "After years of discovery and investigation … we found that that evidence has been refuted, that our theory that they were involved in the case ... was flat-out wrong,” Keith Greer, the lawyer for the Zahau family.

He said there is video that puts Shacknai at the hospital with her son at the time of Zahau’s death, which is where Shacknai had always said she was.

"This evidence is overwhelming," Greer said.

Greer also said there is evidence exonerating Romano, as well.

[Raw video: Wrongful-death lawsuit against Dina Shacknai dropped, Zahaus' lawyer apologizes]

"Based on this evidence, we are dismissing from the case both Nina Romano and Dina Shacknai," he said. "I want to take this opportunity to express a real heartfelt apology to Dina and Nina, and to their families and probably to even their friends for the trauma that this has caused to them," he said, nodding to each woman. "It has affected their lives in ways we can't even know."

“There is undisputed evidence through the discovery process that shows that Dina Shacknai and Nina Romano could not have had anything to do with Rebecca’s death,” Darin Wessel, Romano’s lawyer, said. “We understand that the plaintiffs believe this was murder. My client and her sister don’t know because they weren’t there.”

Shacknai thanked Greer for his "unprecedented apology."

"We have been innocent victims in all this, just as Maxie and Rebecca were victims," she said.

Shacknai said that rather than blaming Zahau for what happened to her son, she was grateful to her because she believed Zahau was the first to take action to save Max's life.

She said she was stunned to learn about Zahau's death.

"This was a mystery to me, inexplicable," she said. At the time, she still believed her son would recover, thanks, in part, to Zahau.

"This last four years has been torturous for us," she said. "We have lost so much."

"I pray now that the Zahau family and our family, that we can begin the process of attempting to heal our hearts from this loss," Romano said, also thanking Greer for his apology. "It has been tragic -- life-shattering."

"Looking back, quite frankly, I believe that Rebecca deeply cared about Max," Shacknai said. "I don't believe ... that she would have hurt him. I don't know what else happened that day .... I don't believe Rebecca hurt Maxie."

Adam Shacknai, who also named in the Zahau's lawsuit, was staying in a guesthouse at his brother's historic Spreckels Mansion at the time of Zahau's death. 

The Zahau family has said Adam Shacknai was the one who killed Zahau, but until now, they believed Dina Shacknai and Romano were involved, as well.

Greer said the case against Adam Shacknai, "the sole defendant in the case now," is slated to go to court in February 2018. 

"I think it is almost guaranteed that this matter will be going to trial at that time," he said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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