Zahau 10-year anniversary | cbs8.com
Family of woman who died at Coronado mansion wants sheriff’s records made public.
CORONADO, Calif. — On the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the death of Rebecca Zahau in Coronado, an attorney representing the Zahau family has filed an amended complaint in the family’s ongoing lawsuit against the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
The amended complaint seeks to keep the lawsuit alive, after the County of San Diego filed a demurrer, asking the judge to dismiss the suit.
Attorney Keith Greer said the family will continue to battle the sheriff’s department in court over the release of investigatory records in the case.
“It’s taken a lot of energy, a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of heartache, but the family is just as committed today as they were 10 years ago,” Greer said.
In the decade since the death of Zahau at the Spreckels Manion in Coronado on July 13, 2011, the same questions remain: Was it murder, as the Zahau family contends? Or was it suicide, as determined by sheriff’s investigators?
Greer contends the sheriff’s department still has not released all its investigative records in the case, which should be made public.
“The sheriff is fighting very, very hard not to disclose information about this investigation. In my experience as a lawyer, the harder somebody fights to not produce something, the more likely it is you’re going to find something that is damning,” Greer said.
Following a wrongful death lawsuit, where in 2018 a civil jury found Adam Shacknai liable for Zahau’s death, the case was settled out of court for $600,000 by Shacknai’s insurance company, seeking to avoid an appeal.
Adam Shacknai is the brother of Zahau’s then-boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai, the owner of the mansion.
In 2020, the Zahau family filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Bill Gore, alleging the Gore selectively released only evidence that made Zahau’s death look like a suicide.
The lawsuit alleged evidence that contradicted the sheriff’s suicide finding was withheld from the family and the public.
“The system is definitely corrupt and whether that corruption starts with the sheriff or not, I think we’ll find out over time,” Greer said.
Under the state’s Public Records Act, police investigative records are exempt from public disclosure. As a result, the County of San Diego has argued the Zahau family’s lawsuit should be thrown out.
A hearing is set for July 23 on a demurrer filed by the county on behalf of sheriff Gore.
“Petitioners seek records that are exempt investigatory files,” the County’s demurrer argued. “In California, a public agency’s disclosure of some privileged records related to a particular matter does not waive the privilege as to other privileged records to the same matter.”
Late Monday afternoon, Greer emailed News 8 an amended petition in the case, that challenges arguments in the county’s demurrer.
The amended filing included a 2011 letter, written by Sheriff Gore to the Zahau family attorney, where Gore claims, “It is our intention to release to you the entire investigative file.”
Greer’s amended petition also included a newly-released Exhibit H diagram, alleging the spot where Adam Shacknai said he cut the rope when he found Zahau body hanging from a balcony, is off by about three feet from the actual cut in the rope.
“When you’re on the right side and you refuse to give up, eventually right will prevail,” said Greer.
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