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Pair will be tried for ’94 killing

One-time NFL linebacker and his ex-lover are charged in the death of a Newport Beach businessman.

November 10, 2009|By Joseph Serna

A former NFL player and his former girlfriend from Ladera Ranch can stand trial for the killing of a Newport Beach man nearly 15 years ago, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Gannon ruled Monday.

Nanette Packard, 44, and Eric Naposki, 42, are charged with killing Bill McLaughlin, a Newport Beach father and successful businessman, on Dec. 15, 1994.

Prosecutors claim that Packard, who was financially supported by McLaughlin and was his longtime girlfriend, persuaded her secret lover, Naposki, to kill McLaughlin inside his home.

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Naposki played linebacker for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in the mid-’90s.

Prosecutors point to McLaughlin’s will that ensured Packard $250,000, a year rent-free in his beach home, and a $1-million life insurance policy in her name, as all the motivation she needed to see McLaughlin dead. In 1996, two years after McLaughlin was fatally shot in his kitchen, Packard was convicted of stealing nearly $500,000 from him before and after his death.

While she and Naposki were suspects for years — police believe she gave Naposki a house key to enter the house and kill McLaughlin — the Orange County district attorney’s office declined to file charges in the case until earlier this year.

Newport Beach police brought a district attorney investigator, Lawrence Montgomery, on board earlier this year to give McLaughlin’s slaying another look.

During Monday’s preliminary hearing, Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy offered a glimpse into what authorities now have that they didn’t have before.

Among all the recordings, reports and evidence he found, two anonymous phone calls years apart proved significant for the case, Montgomery testified Monday.

A neighbor of Naposki’s in 1994, who wished to remain anonymous, is now willing to testify in the case, he said.

The woman called police in 1998, four years after the slaying to report what she knew.

She told police anonymously that weeks before McLaughlin was killed, she was chatting with Naposki, and he said he wanted McLaughlin dead, Montgomery said.

He testified that the woman said Naposki wanted him dead, and that was the last time she saw him until early January 1995.

Montgomery testified that the woman talked with Naposki, who told her that McLaughlin was shot in December.

“She asked if he did it. He said ‘Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t,’ and smiled,” Montgomery said.

Naposki allegedly told the woman that he had left Dec. 16 and returned Jan. 1 and asked her if police had been inquiring about him, Montgomery said.

He testified that Naposki told the woman he had gotten rid of his gun, which was similar to the weapon used in the slaying.

Montgomery also testified that a second person told police Packard had lied about her job and claimed she was a successful businesswoman, taking credit for McLaughlin’s success as a businessman.

He questioned her story when it paralleled media reports on McLaughlin’s death, Montgomery said.

If convicted, Packard and Naposki face life in prison without parole because of the sentencing enhancement of murder for profit.

They’re scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Nov. 23 in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.


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