William McLaughlin's Killer Was Dead Serious, OC Coroner Says

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Naposki booking photo
Whoever killed Newport Beach millionaire William Francis McLaughlin definitely wanted him dead, according to testimony today in the trial of Eric Naposki, a former NFL player accused of murdering McLaughlin in a plot with the victim's fiancee.

Just after 9 p.m. on Dec. 15, 1994, an intruder with a key entered McLaughlin's bayfront home near Pacific Coast Highway and began firing a gun from a distance of about two feet, the jury learned today. Hollow-tip bullets tore into McLaughlin while he stood in his kitchen and drove him to the floor. A coroner testified to the devastation caused by each of the six fired nine-millimeter slugs.

"Every one was potentially fatal independently," said Anthony Juguilon, Orange County's chief pathologist.

With the crime committed the killer left without taking anything and vanished while the victim's adult son, who was upstairs in the house, and neighbors in the ritzy Balboa Coves development wondered what caused all the noise. That event launched a 17-year saga that prosecutor Matt Murphy hopes will end with Naposki's conviction and, later this year, a similar fate for Nanette Johnston, his alleged co-conspirator.

Murphy had hoped to close his case today, but more intense, prolonged battling with Naposki defense lawyer Angelo MacDonald made that impossible. The prosecutor will finish Thursday morning with his final witness, Jenny McLaughlin's, one of the victim's daughters. Then, at some point tomorrow, MacDonald will give an opening statement to the jury and begin calling defense witnesses for the former New England Patriot.

One last note: MacDonald was incensed that Newport Beach Police Department detective Dave Byington, who participated in the case before he retired, testified that detectives had "tirelessly" searched for alleged Naposki telephone records that may have bolster his alibi even though the department asked for the documents from the phone company 14 years after the murder. The phone company's response? We destroyed them seven years ago. "Tirelessly?" said MacDonald. "That's ridiculous."

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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