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Ex-NFL player found guilty of murder

Eric Naposki, 44, will be sentenced in October in the shooting death of Bill McLaughlin, of Newport Beach.

July 14, 2011|By Lauren Williams, lauren.williams@latimes.com
(Don Leach, Daily…)

SANTA ANA — A jury on Thursday found a former NFL player guilty of murdering his lover's boyfriend for financial gain in Newport Beach.

Eric Naposki, 44, was found guilty of first-degree murder for plotting the shooting death of Bill McLaughlin on Dec. 15, 1994. The Orange County Superior Court jury agreed with prosecutors on all counts, and added a sentence enhancement for murder for financial gain.

As the verdict was read in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, Naposki shook his head and turned to look at his fiancée, who was sitting behind him in the audience. "It's OK, it's OK," Naposki mouthed to her.

Both of McLaughlin's daughters hugged prosecutors afterward.

"We've always been hopeful," daughter Jenny McLaughlin told reporters after the verdict.

Naposki, once a linebacker with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, had been dating McLaughlin's girlfriend, Nanette Ann Packard.

The ex-football player, who at the time of the slaying was working as a bouncer at the Thunderbird Nightclub in Newport Beach, was accused of entering McLaughlin's home with a key Packard provided him and then shooting the businessman six times in the chest.

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McLaughlin's 24-year-old son, upstairs at the time of the shooting, told police he heard the shots and then found his father's body. He said the intruder, however, was gone.

Sentencing for Naposki is set for Oct. 21.

Packard, 46, of Ladera Ranch — previously known as Nanette Ann Johnston — is also charged in the incident. She is expected to stand trial in the fall.

Packard has already pleaded guilty to theft and forgery for taking nearly $500,000 from McLaughlin's bank accounts, including cashing a $250,000 check the day before he was shot.

Packard had taken out a $1-million life insurance policy on McLaughlin, who was 55 when he was killed. She also stood to gain $150,000 a year in free rent at McLaughlin's beachfront home in the event of his death.

The 1994 case went cold until police said they uncovered evidence that linked Packard and Naposki to the killing.

One crucial piece of evidence police used was the time it took to get from McLaughlin's home to the Thunderbird Nightclub, which was nearby and was where Naposki worked.

At the time, Naposki told police of his whereabouts, which he claimed left him no time to commit the murder. Prosecutors, however, timed the drive Naposki claimed to have made. Each time, police found there was ample time to commit the murder.

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