Shacknai attorney warns Zahau attorney to 'cease and desist' - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Shacknai attorney warns Zahau family attorney to 'cease and desist'

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Zahau family attorney Anne Bremner appearing on CNN Headline News Zahau family attorney Anne Bremner appearing on CNN Headline News

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS8) - Millionaire pharmaceutical tycoon Jonah Shacknai is coming out swinging in the media battle over the death of his son and girlfriend at his Coronado mansion.

Chicago-based attorney Dan Webb emailed the following "cease and desist" letter Tuesday to Seattle-based attorney Anne Bremner, following her appearance on CNN Headline News and interviews with several media outlets including News 8.

Bremner represents the family of Rebecca Zahau, 32, whose death by hanging on July 13 at the Spreckels mansion was ruled a suicide. Zahau's death came two days after Max Shacknai, 6, suffered grave injuries when he fell off a stairway at the Ocean Blvd. home.

Contacted by email Tuesday night, Bremner said the letter misrepresents her statements and, "We are just seeking answers and justice."

The letter, obtained by KFMB News 8, appears in its entirety below:

From: "Webb, Dan K."
Date: September 6, 2011 6:43:13 AM PDT
To: "abremner@XXXXXXXXXXXX.com
Subject: Jonah Shacknai

Dear Ms. Bremner,

I am an attorney for Jonah Shacknai, retained by him to address false public statements you have made, which have the effect of severely damaging Mr. Shacknai's personal and business reputations. Over the past several days, you have made a series of inaccurate and utterly unsupported statements about the facts surrounding the tragic deaths of Max Shacknai and Rebecca Zahau. However, what is most concerning are recent false public statements you have made that Mr. Shacknai, because of his business success, has somehow improperly influenced the investigations and conclusions of four different, and, independent California law enforcement agencies. You have further made public comments that these agencies have applied a different standard in conducting their investigations because of Mr. Shacknai's wealth. You have absolutely no facts to support these false and irresponsible statements, and you are fully aware that such facts do not exist. Please know that your false public statements constitute defamation, per se, and under law, entitle Mr. Shacknai to recover from you, and your law firm, substantial damages.

Moreover, your statements and actions are highly insensitive on a human level. Mr. Shacknai and his family have suffered two tragic losses under the harsh and unkind glare of a national media frenzy you have now helped sustain. It is ironic that Mr. Shacknai went through the entire law enforcement investigation, at all times cooperating completely with several police authorities, and never once considered retaining an attorney. It is only now, after authorities have announced the conclusions of their comprehensive investigations, that Mr. Shacknai finds it necessary to consult with me because of the false and irresponsible public statements you are making, harming his personal and business reputations. Importantly, throughout the investigation, Mr. Shacknai was not advancing any particular outcome regarding Rebecca Zahau's cause of death, because he had absolutely no knowledge of what happened the night she died.

It is not, in any way, the intent of this communication to advocate that your clients accept the results of the investigation. They are, of course, entitled to their point of view regarding this matter. Nevertheless, you must cease and desist from making any further false public statements about Mr. Shacknai. I appreciate your immediate attention to the seriousness of this matter.

Dan K. Webb
Chairman
Winston & Strawn LLP
35 W. Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601-9703

Also on Tuesday, the San Diego County Medical Examiner said it will stand by its findings of suicide by hanging in the death of Zahau.

A News 8 review of the autopsy revealed Zahau had four head injuries underneath her scalp, sticky tape residue on her legs, and a T-shirt in her mouth at the time of her death.

Deputy Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas released a written statement to News 8 responding to the new evidence revealed in the autopsy, evidence which was never publicly addressed in a 90-minute news conference held Friday by the San Diego County Sheriff, Coronado police, and the medical examiner.

The entire statement by San Diego County Deputy Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas reads:

Sticky material that appeared similar to tape residue was noted on her mid left shin and right lower leg. These were small areas (about an inch), and their significance is not clear. Their position and size would have been unusual for evidence of leg binding.

Bruises on the right side of her scalp were also seen. These were relatively minor. Because there was evidence that she went over the balcony in a non-vertical position, she may have struck her head on the balcony on the way down.

The T-shirt that was around her neck had a portion originally in her mouth that was removed by the person who found her. It is not clear why it was there, although people can place material in their mouth prior to hanging.

Blood was found on her inner thighs and the source was either menses or spotting due to an IUD (Intrauterine Device). There was no genital trauma. A small amount of blood was also noted on her big toes which appeared to be due to small scratches from the plants below the balcony.

As in any comprehensive investigation, some findings cannot be entirely explained. None of the observations listed above are inconsistent with the conclusions reached regarding the cause and manner of death of Rebecca Zahau. Our condolences go out to all of those involved in this tragic case.

Dr. Lucas did not respond to a News 8 follow-up question via email asking whether four head injuries would be consistent with Zahau's hanging-death scenario.

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