[GUILTY!] Eric Naposki's Verdict Shines Spotlight on Newport Beach Police Department Heroics

Matt_Murphy_OCDA_mug1.jpg
OC Register media pool photo
Prosecutor Matt Murphy nabs another murderer
In most respects, today was a typical day in Orange County: Surfers hit Pacific Ocean waves under a cloudless sky. Shoppers crammed into South Coast Plaza. The notorious 55 freeway wrecked people's schedules. Excited tourists piled into Disneyland and the water cooler topic remained the Little Saigon woman who on Monday, allegedly drugged her husband, chopped off his penis, threw it down a kitchen sink and turned on the disposal.

In other words, there were plenty of distractions from a major event in the history of the county's criminal justice system.

Inside Judge William R. Froeberg's 10th floor courtroom at OC's Central Courthouse in Santa Ana late this afternoon, a jury of seven women and five men pronounced Eric Naposki, an ex-NFL linebacker, guilty of murder.

People get convicted of murder all the time, but this case was exceptionally special--and not just because the accused killer played professional football for the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Barcelona Dragons.

Or because Naposki's Newport Beach victim--an immensely talented and lovable William McLaughlin--had earned more than $55 million when a scumbag brutally fired six hollow tip bullets into his torso and left him dying in his own kitchen on Dec. 15, 1994.

Or necessarily because it has taken many years for the first prong of justice to locate McLaughlin's surviving adult daughters, Jenny and Kimberly McLaughlin.

The successful case against Naposki, arguably the county's most puzzlingly cocky homicide defendant in my memory, was an affirmation of the excellence that exists within OC's law enforcement community. As a crime writer who well knows there are within our borders tragically flawed, despicable people wearing high-ranking badges, it's nice to see good cops--the ones who are worth triple whatever we pay them--win a tough fight.

Here are our heroes: Newport Beach Police Department detectives Thomas Voth (retired), Craig Frizzell (retired) and Joe Cartwright; Investigator Larry Montgomery with the Orange County District Attorney's office; and veteran homicide prosecutor Matt Murphy. Remove any one of these five public servants from the equation and a macho-acting but pusillanimous killer still would be roaming free.  

Larry_Montgomery_OCDA.jpg
OC Register media pool photo
Modest super sleuth criminal investigator Larry Montgomery
Here's the irony: the defense team, three-fourths of them from New York, repeatedly ridiculed the cops on Naposki's case as if they were Barney Fife's dim-witted, cross-eyed cousins.

The jury obviously didn't buy that characterization and good for them.

Because here's the beauty of this case--the reason we all should be pleased tonight: For 13 years, Newport Beach cops couldn't decisively solve McLaughlin's murder, but they never gave up.

The cops weren't perfect--even they'd admit that. Yet, in 2007, police officials--namely Cartwright--had the courage to risk potential public embarrassment for the department by handing over the case to the DA's Montgomery, a veteran, cold-case, super sleuth.

"That's the mark of true professionalism," Murphy told me. "They didn't care if they got embarrassed for screwing something up. All they were focused on was solving this murder, finding the killers and bringing them to justice. That's outstanding. That's what people should remember."

Not surprisingly, Montgomery--my nominee for the county's most underpaid cop--did find new, substantial incriminating evidence against Naposki and his alleged co-conspirator, Nanette Johnston, and handed it over to Murphy, an accomplished member of the DA's elite homicide prosecution unit.

Earlier I mentioned that only one prong of justice has greeted Jenny and Kimberly McLaughlin; Johnston's trial as Naposki's co-conspirator is set to begin on Nov. 4.

If she has any common sense, Johnston--who was called "diabolical" by both the prosecution and defense in the just finished case--must realize the chances of her ever taking a single breath in freedom again just loudly evaporated unless her feisty public defender, Mick Hill, can pull off a miracle.

Receiving a "guilty" verdict in a murder trial probably wouldn't be an experience that most normal people would laugh off. As Naposki heard this jury's decision, he smirked like he did when the prosecutor played the incredibly painful 911 call the victim's now dead son, Kevin, made to police when he found his dad shot.

This defendant was so stupid he laughed and smiled and snorted throughout his trial.

Eric_Naposki_NFL_verdict_smirk5.jpg
OC Register media pool photo
Naposki hears that he can now add "murderer" as the biggest accomplishment on his resume
I guess some jerks have to be callously disgusting all the way to the end. 

Hey, Eric, I'm betting California's lovely correctional prison system, your likely home until you die, brings you many future moments to smirk.

Bye. Bye. Send me a postcard.

Meanwhile, back in common decency territory, there remains Jenny and Kimberly. I saw their strength during painful moments in the trial. (Who wants to see horrible crime scene pictures of their murdered father?)

After today's verdict, they were appropriately solemn. They praised the cops and the DA's office as well as the jurors. They hailed the moment as an honor to their slain dad.

During the trial, Naposki's visiting New York pals from Pappalardo & Pappalardo pompously berated everything here: the prosecutor--who has never lost a homicide case, the cops, the media, etc. They dripped smugness. They routinely doused themselves in cologne, perhaps in an attempt to mask their previous night's excessive bar activities. They constantly rolled their eyes because--they wanted us to know--they were the superior ones in the courtroom. They called people "zit-faced" and "stupid" and "losers." One of them, a former prosecutor for God's sake, shamelessly mad-dogged me.

Naposki and his testosterone-overloaded, legal crew wouldn't know class if it ran them over, backed up, and ran them over a second time.

Hope you boys get cocktails at half price on your coach Jet Blue trip back to La Guardia. Make sure your laundry shops remove the footprint imprints left on the back of your pants by the victorious California crew. Like, totally, you know what I mean, Richard A. Portale?

But here's a powerful image that the gutter boys could never appreciate: After the verdict had been read and the handcuffed, still defiant defendant taken from the courtroom, Kimberly McLaughlin walked over to Naposki's weeping fiancee, Rosie Macaluso--a school teacher still clinging absurdly to the notion that her boy is the victim here--and consoled her. 

Kimberly_McLaughlin_class.jpg
OC Register media pool photo
Kimberly McLaughlin shows sympathy to the fiancee of the man who killed her father
Given everything that Kimberly and her sister have endured over the years--including the disingenuous indignities thrown by Naposki's defense in hopes of fingering their disabled brother as the killer, that's an inspiring sign of class.

Next up: an Oct. 21 sentencing hearing.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

(rscottmoxley at ocweekly dot com)


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69 comments
both adopted and murderers
both adopted and murderers

Fabulous! Now if the can solve this riddle? '(Was once so mad to have a bag of coins, and now so glad to have millions by virtue of one brain dead with these initials DB in NC.)'

Lizzyo
Lizzyo

The only sad ending is Nanette's children.  Eric and Nannette are the dark side of the good life in Newport Beach.  Thunderbird nightclub was truly a den of evil and drugs so it just fits the bill about Eric's employment there in the 1990's.  He was a vampire and killer.  What a big cover up and how stupid they were to think they would get away with such an obvious murder?  What a waste of lives.

Denise H.
Denise H.

Excellent article Scott.

The Newport Beach police department and D.A.'s  Investigator Larry Montgomery have done outstanding police work bringing this killer to justice.

The truth will ALWAYS win.

Jayleechu
Jayleechu

...out-of-towner predjudice, new york-snobbery by lawyers, never=lose records, local heroes, kind-hearted children, a popular victim, sympathy for a disabled son, an evil woman...    well gosh darn,... orange county had most every thing... except evidence...

Suzie
Suzie

I don`t think and I don't understand why Eric Naposki got a guilty verdict. Nanette Johnson is guilty in first degree, she even had M. McLaughlin fooled into marying her. She is a professional manipulator and wanted the money for herself. Eric Naposki had no idea just like M. McLaughlin that she was playing a game on both of them. Put Nanette in jail for life and let M. Naposki go free because he is innocent 100%.

*6767
*6767

The "Barcelona Dragons" and whatever their sports league is obviously had no issues with steroid use...

lorenzo
lorenzo

17 years after the crime and the only new evidence is a girl who come forward to say naposki told her the guy has forced himself on my girlfriend and then says something like "i wanna kill that guy". how many men in america would make such as statement if their wife told them a similar story - 80%? This is not enough new evidence to get a trial 17 years later. nor is a key that thousands of people had duplicated.the only case against naposki is a missing gun and dont forget he ran a security company and was always lending guns to his employees. thats it. now many people could have set him up?. well the ex-wife whos family got 50 million,,and had bitter divorce. . the ex-partner who lost millions in a law suit.... the son who discoverred the body -- the vivtim had guns all over the place... and of course Nanette who could have easily stolen naposki's gun to frame him.has naposki ever commiteed a crime before or after this? did he get a single dime out of this?..yet the sentence is murder for money ... a life sentence with no possibility of parolethe police sure looked hard enough. they followed him with helicopters......they came up with nada....yet they didnt spend a penny trying to defend his rights by checking out his alibi at the time ( i guess millionaires in oc have different rights)he is the patsy for whoever did this and the pasty for the incompent and corrupt orange county police and prosecution......this will come out eventually and be an embarassment to oc. there was a juror who said "i cant even look at him he's a killer" why wanst she excused? did the prosecution even have to prove its case? ..seems like the verdict was decided in advance

Annaflixion
Annaflixion

Not having followed this story, I'd have liked to read a rundown of what actually happened. This article was totally confusing.

LoveToAll
LoveToAll

It's heartbreaking that this had to come to Eric. I think under normal circumstances he would not have done such an act, but he was coached by the best and he is in a long line of people that were bamboozled, mislead, and flat out lied to. He was for the most part a nice guy, who got involved with a not so nice girl. I'm sorry for the families involved, the family and children of the defendants, The McLaughlin's, Eric's girlfriend, and the web of innocent people forever affected by this one act of jealousy and greed. Anger hurts the angry and the world around them. I pray for healing and forgiveness for all involved. Most of all love to each one that they can pick up their lives take hold of what has happened and move forward. Make this world a better place.

The Spleen
The Spleen

Mr. Moxley, don't you love having your work critiqued by people who can barely construct a complete sentence and spell "grammar" with an "e"? Great work.

Mikecape
Mikecape

Eric Naposki, was a football star in Barcelona. He is in the World Football Hall of Fame and made substantial $$ in the last 2 or 3 years of his career 3 or 4 years after the murder. At least 200k per year. Sad thing is if the league hadn't folded for 2 years. He would have never been in CA in 1994. If he had stayed in Spain all these years they would have never extradited him as Spain has no extradition agreement with the US and from what I hear many donations for his defense came form supporters in that Country who followed the case. I must say, his defense team seemed like a bunch of idiots. However if we are at a point in America where we can convict people on circumstantial evidence that is a sad day. Orange County is likely the only place in this Country were he would have been convicted perhaps Texas Sothern GA or Northern Florida. In another spot in the nation a more liberal jury would have been selected and I would bet we would have a different ending here. I am not saying he isn’t guilty. He likely is what I am saying is that if we as a nation start making convictions without a shred of physical evidence we are moving in the wrong direction. In this case there was just way too much physical evidence, the missing gun, the lies to police, the keys, the poor alibi, but the issue that I see is this in 1994 they didn’t have the evidence to go to trial, and in 2011 they did without gaining additional evidence. Not sure what happened here likely a political feather for a DA with further political aspirations, .but I see CA as kind of a place on their last legs..60 million in population, the state broke, 10 million illegal immigrants and now just another guy they will have to feed, cloth and shelter for life at a cost of 22k per year. I think New Yorkers are laughing this morning. As I understand it this guy might have been looked at in NYS for something else perhaps an arson, fire in which somebody died. They passed on it, and CT made sure he got to CA a state with deep pockets. LOL..

Nicole  Naposki :D
Nicole Naposki :D

Lolol really? A scumbag no class asshole? What are you a 13 year old child? Who ever wrote this "wouldn't know class if it hit them and ran them over" great analogy took alot of intelligence for that one ... Hey you judgmental scumbag with your praise for your great "justice" system j bet u find Anthony Casey not guilty aswell? Lmao u fcking judgemental scumbag why don't you get off your high fucking horse ... My COUSIN can nevertrrrrrrrrrrrrrtrrrrr see he's beautiful young children ever again ... Bc of circumstansional evidence ? Lolol there's no justice in this god damn country cause of Concited illiterate "scumbags" like you "before you point your fingers make sure your hands are clean" PROUD to BE A NAPOSKi !!!! :D

Brenda
Brenda

Mr. Moxley is a class act. Very witty and says things that we're all thinking. It's pure enjoyment reading his articles.  "Kim Lee" or is this Lucious by Lash or Lish or whatever the heck you're calilng yourself these days.  I hope it's you sweety. Keep extending your vacation in Fantasy Land it works well for you.

Andrea
Andrea

Will Naposki's conviction strengthen the case against NanettePackard or will they have to keep Naposki's conviction hidden from the jury until theyreach their verdict?

Msbellabree05
Msbellabree05

I guess Eric had one thing right when he used to talk about karma...it is a bitch.

Dbo90274
Dbo90274

Great article, great coverage, Mox, way to go.  And way to go to those who were able to prosecute this pathetic excuse of a human.  The good guys do sometimes win!

David
David

Please...What trial were you watching? This case was and still is an embarrassment to the police department, the District Attorney and the entire County! The prosecution case was desperate at times.  It took them 17 years to figure it out! C'mon! Citizens of Orange County are doomed if that's the case!Your never ending "brown nosing" of the prosecution team and cops in every single one of your blogs is nauseating.  Do you guys surf together? It is our constitutional right for all citizens to be defended in this great country of ours.  Your characterization of the defense team, is disgustingly unfair and even borderline libellous. Perhaps you should be reminded that one member of the defence team is a respected Orange County attorney who happens to be very good friend with your idol Matt Murphy. The other is a former prosecutor who doesn't consume a single drop of alcohol! Perhaps before maligning reputations you should check your facts! But then again you're the kind of writer who doesn't let facts get in the way of your story! I can bet the clock is ticking on your career but hey maybe there's a PR job available in the prosecutor's office. Judging by your articles I'm sure you'd get hired!

The Don
The Don

Moxley this was a poor piece of writing...Any joe off the street can ridicule and tear apart anyone or any idea....do you work for the OC Register? The caption and descriptions of the pictures were even better d bag...

redsoxfan1978uws
redsoxfan1978uws

Only sad ending? Are you kidding me!!! An innocent man lost his life and his family lost their father. What kind of trash would state that the only sad ending is Nanette's' children. You are a disgusting human being for making such a statement.

ITALIANEYES69696
ITALIANEYES69696

Well NAPOSKI ENJOY GETTING BUTT FUCKED IN THE CALI STATE PRISONS..IAM SURE YOUR TUMMY IS ALREADY FULL OF CUMMY!! YOU FAG ASS BIAAAACHHHH

Jack Grimshaw
Jack Grimshaw

Wow! Some really impressive deductive reasoning there, pal ...

Queenmarie77
Queenmarie77

FYI: there was new evidence this time around. There are new advances In forensics. They were able to confirm that the bullets used definitely came from a Beretta. And two witnesses brought forth further incriminating information that they originally did not have. At the end of day; if this was your father, wouldn't you want such strong circumstances to bring justice forth?!

Jack Grimshaw
Jack Grimshaw

" At least 200k per year." May we suggest you pay a little more atttention to decimal points - it would spare you posting such ludicrosities. Standard contract for any WLAF player was $20,000 NOT $200,000.

Also, there has been a mutual extradition treaty between Spain and the U.S. since June, 1971, for a variety of serious charges, including, of course, murder.

" ...from what I hear many donations for his defense ...." When your "facts" (above) are so lamentably misinformed, I think we may safely discount anything you may claim to have "heard."

redsoxfan1978uws
redsoxfan1978uws

Your cousin can never see his children again because he is a murderer. He has forever tarnished your family name. Hope he's enjoying Corcoran.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Circumstantial evidence can be conclusive: A man walks into a room with a gun is his hand, you hear a shot fired, the man walks out with the gun in his hand, you go in the room and see a person on the floor bleeding. To what conclusion would you come?

Dbo90274
Dbo90274

Ummmm . . . come again?  You're prose is a bit difficult to follow.  Are you saying you agree he's a guilty murderous goon? 

Bill T.
Bill T.

Jyust give me me your money, I won't lie to you, I'll just spend it and give you nothing in return. Or you can give it to Peterson who will lie to you and tell you you're getting something of value for it.

thelongestyard
thelongestyard

David, David, David.  Obviously you were either not there and not following the trial, or there and oblivious and not listening at all.  From the bathrooms to the courtroom, it was blatant as noted.  Not the two attorneys doing the actual trial, they were professional and courteous, mostly.  Some of the tactics not quite above board, but then again, they are trying to help their client so I give them a pass.  The others I do not.  And yes, they were as Moxley pointed out.  And yes, there were lots of pieces that came together later.  I think, contrary to your statement, it was phenomenal work, not an embarrassment, to get this all together as technology and other info became available.  To not give up despite the passing of time is what you want in a police dept, District attorney and all the staff.  I, myself, as most, are proud of what we have, and thankful.

*6767
*6767

BTW - Moxley was not referring to Pohlson.  He was referring to MacDonald, a former Bronx prosecutor.  Unless you witnessed MacDonald's crap in the courtroom, you have no idea.  MacDonald's antics we ridiculous, and reminded many that many a defense attorneys are not out there valiantly defending innocent people.  Many are simply there to throw enough diversion into the fray to mislead and confuse the jury.  BUT, the defense's witnesses turned out to be the prosecution's best "witnesses"...

*6767
*6767

There is NO statute of limitations on murder.  NEW witness testimony and advances in ballistic forensics had emerged in this case.  Years-old cold cases are solved and prosecuted every day.

If I am reading your blather correctly, McLaughlin's daughters didn't deserve to have justice in the cruel gunning down of their beloved father because it took 14 1/2 years (not 17) to make arrests???  Are you serious?

Eagle
Eagle

Isn't this a blog? They aren't handing out Pulitzers for what's written here... it's simply a first person account. Get over it...

Nikkidee626
Nikkidee626

Agreed .. "any fool can criticize" this article is simply an image of the author has on himself.. You are judgmental and pathic.. What goes around comes around(;

COLUMBO
COLUMBO

It's not about the writing, PEOPLE!!!  It's about a guilty verdict! Are you all silenced in your arguements about why Naposki is guilty, so you're picking on the writer?? Pathetic.

ITALIANEYES69696
ITALIANEYES69696

KNOWN THIS PUNK FOR YEARS WHAT A DUMB ASS BIACH TO WACKED A DUDE INFORMNT OF ANOTHER CRACKED OUT CUNT..NOW BOY ENJOY SUCKING COCK TO GET YOUR TESTOSTERONE LEVELS UP..DAM BOY YOUR ASS IS GONNA BE RIPPED WIDE OPEN ESAY/./.

James Heidel
James Heidel

Conclusion: Things might not always be as simple as they first might appear to be!

Nikkidee626
Nikkidee626

& yes I see where your coming from but who's to say that person had to be myyy cousin && wasn't ccasey Anthony not convicted due to onlyyy having circumenstaniol evidence?

Nikki naposki
Nikki naposki

No ... Not one bit but the author of this article is sitting there calling my cousin names which is extremely judge mental and did it cross Anyones mind that maybe the victims wife did it and framed Eric?

Mikecape
Mikecape

Eric Naposki, was a football star in Barcelona. He is in the World Football Hall of Fame and made substantial $$ in the last 2 or 3 years of his career 3 or 4 years after the murder. At least 200k per year. Sad thing is if the league hadn't folded for 2 years. He would have never been in CA in 1994. If he had stayed in Spain all these years they would have never extradited him as Spain has no extradition agreement with the US and from what I hear many donations for his defense came form supporters in that Country who followed the case. I must say, his defense team seemed like a bunch of idiots. However if we are at a point in America where we can convict people on circumstantial evidence that is a sad day. Orange County is likely the only place in this Country were he would have been convicted perhaps Texas Sothern GA or Northern Florida. In another spot in the nation a more liberal jury would have been selected and I would bet we would have a different ending here. I am not saying he isn’t guilty. He likely is what I am saying is that if we as a nation start making convictions without a shred of physical evidence we are moving in the wrong direction. In this case there was just way too much physical evidence, the missing gun, the lies to police, the keys, the poor alibi, but the issue that I see is this in 1994 they didn’t have the evidence to go to trial, and in 2011 they did without gaining additional evidence. Not sure what happened here likely a political feather for a DA with further political aspirations, .but I see CA as kind of a place on their last legs..60 million in population, the state broke, 10 million illegal immigrants and now just another guy they will have to feed, cloth and shelter for life at a cost of 22k per year. I think New Yorkers are laughing this morning. As I understand it this guy might have been looked at in NYS for something else perhaps an arson, fire in which somebody died. They passed on it, and CT made sure he got to CA a state with deep pockets. LOL..

*6767
*6767

Thank you LongestYard...It is quite evident that there's no way in hell that "David" was in the courtroom at any point during this trial.

David
David

6767 please don't be a 0.That was not my take on MacDonald at all. From my what I saw he was respectful and courtesy to all sides despite the obviously sleazy and desperate antics of the prosecution. I saw him shake Murphy's hand before and after the verdict!  He was a bigger man then Murphy. By the way, when is it okay to start personally attacking defense lawyers in a summation? How childish and even more, how amateurish! It was a desperate and classless move on Murphy's part! The prosecutor and his Chief Inspector Clouseau should  go out and buy themselves a lottery ticket they just got lucky with this jury and they know it. I bet you their pants are still wet. But more disturbing then the obvious lack of evidence, is how they conveniently lost the document that proved Mr. Naposki's alibi...how fitting for this prosecutor. The way I see it is, not only did "The People" show their incompetence and disorganization in trying a murder case 17 year later.. but, now they've blown the door open for an appeal by the defense...stay tuned...I don't think is over yet!

Taz
Taz

Thank you *6767, The jury seemed to think that the McLaughlin's deserved Justive no matter how long it took!!!

The Don
The Don

No reply yet Columbo...D Bag..

The Don
The Don

No Columbo....This article should have been done in a more professional taste...not a revengeful satire from someone calling themself a writer....

Truth is Truth
Truth is Truth

Casey Anthony had idiots for jurors...All roads lead to Eric and Nanette.

Truth is Truth
Truth is Truth

Please that's about as ridiculous a scenario as I have heard... how could anyone have tried to set him up if they didn't even know about him? The police exhausted all other leads. Box even came back with no other leads and he was trying to find someone else and even lied on the stand to try and point fingers to someone else. No one else did this. Nikki i know it's hard to believe the ones we love so much would do something like this, but he did. Many families like you are faced with the same disbelief that you are going through. Few ever get over it.

David
David

Back at you jack ass!

thelongestyard
thelongestyard

Alibi, what alibi.  This is not an alibi buffet.  The prosecution showed, that, even with the phone call, it did not preclude him from getting there in time.  They also went in reverse and said if you left from Walnut at 8:20, went home, changed, went back out to a friends house but no one home, and then over to Denny's (as stated by Eric himself), all of that was impossible within that time frame.  Prosecution gave them the benefit of the doubt and said even with the phone call, which was impossible to do within that time frame, there was enough time to get to Newport.  So, why is that losing a document that proves an alibi?  The phone call is not an alibi even if it was made.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

What's your problem with Scott? You, a Don? HA! More like a Fredo—and even he's manlier tha you.

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