Man found responsible in California mansion death lawsuit

Posted: Updated:
Adam Shacknai must pay Rebecca Zahau's family $5 million for the loss of Zahau's love and companionship. (Source: CBS) Adam Shacknai must pay Rebecca Zahau's family $5 million for the loss of Zahau's love and companionship. (Source: CBS)
(Source: CBS) (Source: CBS)
C. Keith Greer (center) and Mary Zahau-Loehners, the sister of Rebecca Zahau (Source: CBS) C. Keith Greer (center) and Mary Zahau-Loehners, the sister of Rebecca Zahau (Source: CBS)
SAN DIEGO (AP) -

A California civil jury decided Wednesday that a man is legally responsible for the death of his brother's girlfriend, who was found hanging at a San Diego-area mansion in 2011.

Jurors in the wrongful-death trial determined that Adam Shacknai must pay Rebecca Zahau's family $5 million for the loss of her love and companionship, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. He was also ordered to pay an additional $167,000 for the loss of financial support she would have provided her mother and siblings.

Jurors haven't yet determined whether to order punitive damages.

Shacknai, 54, dropped his head as the verdicts were read, the newspaper said. He is the brother of pharmaceutical executive Jonah Shacknai, whom Zahau was dating when she died at the home in Coronado.

A coroner said the death was a suicide, and Zahau's family sued to challenge that decision.

[READ MORE: San Diego Sheriff: Footprints, DNA pointed to suicide in mansion death (Sept. 1, 2011)]

C. Keith Greer, the lawyer representing the Zahau family, argued that Shacknai struck Zahau on the head, sexually assaulted and strangled her, and then staged the hanging to look like she took her own life.

"Why did Adam Shacknai brutally murder Rebecca Zahau?" Greer asked rhetorically in court Monday. "It's one of the oldest reasons in the world - sex."

Zahau, 32, was the only adult known to have been present two days before her death when Jonah Shacknai's 6-year-old son, Max, suffered brain injuries in a fall from a staircase. Max died several days later. His death was ruled accidental.

[RELATED: Mother announces new nonprofit to honor son, help children (July 16, 2012)]

[RELATED: Shacknai remembers son with new charity (June 7, 2012)]

Adam Shacknai, from Memphis, Tennessee, had come to California after his nephew was injured and was staying in the mansion's guest house.

RELATED STORIES


Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

© 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.