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Mother wants son's Coronado mansion death investigation reopened

September 18, 2012 |  8:33 am

The mother of a 6-year-old boy who died in 2011 after an injury at a Coronado mansion is set to ask the City Council on Tuesday to order the police to reopen their investigation into the death.

Coronado police and the San Diego County medical examiner have ruled that Max Shacknai’s death was an accident from injuries suffered when he fell at the oceanfront mansion where he lived with his father and his father’s girlfriend.

But the boy’s mother, divorced from the boy’s father, has said that independent investigators have thrown doubt on that conclusion by suggesting the boy’s injuries appeared to be from an assault, not an accidental fall.

Dina Shacknai is set to ask the council at Tuesday’s meeting to order the police to reopen the case.

Police, however, have already reviewed the information provided by Shacknai and declared that it does not merit reopening the case.

“We feel there was insufficient information that would compel us to change the manner of death or conduct additional investigation at this time,” Coronado Police Cmdr. Mike Lawton said in a statement posted on the city's website.

Dina Shacknai has carried her campaign for a renewed investigation through a website, news interviews, and an appearance on the "Dr. Phil" TV show.

On her website, she wrote that, “sadly, the law enforcement conclusions regarding Maxie’s death seem to have been virtually predetermined and perhaps even ‘politically expedient.’”

Max Shacknai died July 16, 2011, in the intensive care unit at Rady Children’s Hospital, five days after his injuries. He lived at the historic Spreckels mansion with his father, pharmaceutical executive Jonah Shacknai, and his father’s girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau.

On July 13, 2011, Zahau’s nude body was found hanging from an outdoor balcony. San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the medical examiner declared the death to be a suicide. Zahau's family has said they do not believe she committed suicide.

Jonah Shacknai has sold the Coronado mansion and returned to his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Dina Shacknai lives in Paradise Valley, Ariz.


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--Tony Perry in San Diego