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Woman convicted of plotting boyfriend's murder

Nanette Packard-McNeal, who is scheduled for sentencing May 18, faces life in prison without parole.

January 23, 2012|By Joseph Serna

SANTA ANA — Family and friends of a slain Newport Beach businessman cried and hugged in a courtroom here Monday when the second of two killers was convicted of murder.

Following almost

four hours of deliberations, a jury of nine women and three men convicted Nanette Packard-McNeal, 46, of murder for financial gain in the 1994 shooting of her then-boyfriend, Bill McLaughlin.

Eric Naposki, a former NFL player, was convicted last summer of pulling the trigger. While Packard-McNeal was with McLaughlin, she was also dating Naposki on the side.

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She faces life in prison without parole at her May 18 sentencing. Naposki, 45, will be sentenced the same day.

"This is in honor of my dad and the many people she's used and abused," said Kimberly McLaughlin, one of McLaughlin's two daughters. "She got what she deserved."

Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy credited Newport Beach police and new technology with cracking the once-cold case. For 15 years, Packard-McNeal was considered a suspect, but there was never enough evidence to charge her.

Authorities asserted that Packard-McNeal gave Naposki a key to McLaughlin's home and convinced him to kill McLaughlin.

McLaughlin was shot at close range in his kitchen while his son was upstairs. There was no evidence of forced entry.

"We didn't know why anyone would want to hurt our dad," said Jennifer McLaughlin, McLaughlin's other daughter. "It was a big revelation she was involved."

McLaughlin took care of Packard-McNeal financially and put in his will that she would get $150,000 and get to live in his beachfront Balboa Coves home rent-free for a year if he died. She also took out a $1-million life insurance policy on him.

Murphy said Packard-McNeal was "absolutely motivated by money. She's a greedy thief who created this murder."

Packard-McNeal later sued the family, who eventually settled. Much of that settlement was returned when she was later convicted of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from McLaughlin after his death.

Yet even with that seemingly clear motive and conviction, police did not have enough to arrest either her or Naposki for murder.

That changed a few years ago, when Newport Beach police dusted off the case and tried reopening dead ends.

Technology allowed police to narrow the murder weapon from 28 guns to one. An anonymous caller who tipped police to Naposki's involvement was tracked down. A nervous witness who wasn't willing to testify after the killing was now willing to cooperate.

"Some of the best police work I've ever seen," Murphy said.

The pair were eventually tracked down. Naposki was taken into custody in Connecticut, Packard-McNeal in Ladera Ranch.

Walking into the courtroom Monday, Packard-McNeal was stoic. She wore a white sweater over a black top with gray slacks. Her dark brown hair, once bleached blonde, was tightly pulled back. She didn't flinch as the verdict was read aloud.

Most of the jury looked down through the proceedings. One of the female jurors smiled as they exited the courtroom.

"They did the right thing," Murphy said.

— Staff Writer Britney Barnes also contributed to this report.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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