Attorney: She's deceitful, dishonest but not a murderer
A woman accused of plotting with her lover, a former NFL linebacker, to kill her boyfriend was described in court Monday by her attorney as dishonest, unfaithful and only interested in men with money.
Despite those character flaws, Nanette Packard-McNeal is not guilty of murder, said her public defender, Mick Hill.
"She always had a lover on the side," Hill said. "Does that mean she's a killer? No."
Packard-McNeal, 46, has pleaded not guilty to charges of plotting with former linebacker Eric Naposki to kill Bill McLaughlin, 55.
Naposki was convicted in a separate trial of murder in connection with McLaughlin's death.
On Monday, prosecutors in Packard-McNeal's trial said greed motivated the 1994 crime.
Murphy said Packard-McNeal took credit for the invention, and in the months leading up to McLaughlin's murder, told several people she was going to come into a large sum of money.
"She had a very big secret," Murphy said. "In fact, she had a 250-pound secret named Eric Naposki."
While dating McLaughlin, Packard-McNeal was also secretly dating Naposki, with whom she traveled to Chicago to meet her grandmother, to New York to celebrate Thanksgiving and to Washington, D.C., for a wedding — all on McLaughlin's dime, according to Murphy.
Hill said Naposki was jealous and unaware of Packard-McNeal's relationship with McLaughlin, and shortly before the businessman's death he asked a friend to follow her.
On a PowerPoint slide titled "Common Sense," Hill wrote: "If you are motivated by money, you will not kill the golden goose to be with the pauper."
With her rich boyfriend dead, Packard-McNeal's went straight into Naposki's arms, which Hill said explains her phone calls immediately after McLaughlin's death.
Pictures of McLaughlin's bullet-riddled body were projected onto a screen in Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg's courtroom in Santa Ana.
Also on the screen as prosecutors presented their case were images of the $900,000 homes Naposki and Packard-McNeal visited when house hunting, although neither had any money independent of McLaughlin's, prosecutors asserted.
Jurors saw both presentations packed with images of McLaughlin with Packard-McNeal's children, and while prosecutors emphasized the callous nature of killing a loving family man, the defense illustrated McLaughlin's connection to Packard-McNeal's children as evidence it was unlikely she would plot a coldblooded murder in the days before Christmas.
But as the holidays approached, Murphy said there was no present for McLaughlin under Packard-McNeal's tree and that she lied to police about buying him any gifts — proof she knew he wouldn't be there to open them.
Hill said her decision to shop at the last minute wasn't indicative of murder.
Since her 2009 arrest, Packard-McNeal's appearance has dramatically changed. Her hair, once straight and bleached, was pulled back into a long, curly brown ponytail, with one bright blonde streak down the middle.
The trial is expected to last four or five days. Naposki was convicted in July of first-degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for financial gain.
His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20 in the same courtroom. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
-- Lauren Williams, Times Community News