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Newport Beach 'femme fatale' gets life sentence in boyfriend's murder

 

An Orange County woman convicted of plotting the 1994 murder of her wealthy Newport Beach boyfriend was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Sentencing for the woman's former lover, a former NFL linebacker convicted of actually killing businessman Bill McLaughlin, was continued until Aug. 10.

Jurors had earlier convicted Nanette Packard-McNeal, 46, and onetime New England Patriots linebacker Eric Naposki in McLaughlin's slaying, part of an alleged plot to cash in on the man's $1-million life insurance policy.

At one point during Friday's proceedings in Orange County Superior Court, Naposki refused to come out of his holding cell.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy called Naposki's behavior "a final blaze of no class and cowardice." Naposki, the prosecutor said, was "a coward for not coming out of his cell, a coward for not facing these people."

About 40 people -- including friends and family of McLaughlin, police officers, journalists and former jurors in the case -- filled the courtroom.

Portrayed as a femme fatale and manipulator, Packard-McNeal was living with McLaughlin and spending and stealing his money while dating other men, prosecutors said.

Murphy said Packard-McNeal had to kill McLaughlin because it was only a matter of time before he realized she was cheating on him or stealing his money.

Packard-McNeal's attorney, Mick Hill, argued that his client had the perfect setup with McLaughlin -- he was rich, was largely absent and owned a nice home -- and she wouldn't want to ruin it by eliminating him.

The slaying had been one of the more perplexing unsolved homicides in Orange County until Naposki and Packard-McNeal were arrested in 2009.

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-McNeal had provided and then shooting the victim six times in the chest.

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.

McLaughlin's violent death shocked the normally quiet Balboa Coves community where he was a fixture. The businessman was well known in medical circles after inventing a prototype blood-filtering device for collecting plasma.

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-- Lauren Williams and Richard Winton

 
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