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Family of Rebecca Zahau petitioning Medical Examiner to change the 32-year-old's cause of death

Attorney Keith Greer said if cause of death is changed, case can be re-opened by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

CORONADO, Calif. — One of San Diego’s most infamous cases was back in the spotlight Thursday.

Rebecca Zahau was found dead at the Spreckles Mansion in Coronado in 2011. Her family maintains it was not a suicide. 

Thursday morning they held a news conference at their attorney's office in Rancho Bernardo to announce they are now petitioning the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office and the prior San Diego Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, to change the cause of death from "suicide" to "homicide" or "undetermined."

They said the goal is to have the criminal case re-opened by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Attorney Keith Greer said the family wants Adam Shacknai held criminally responsible for Zahau's death.

In 2018, Zahau's family sued Shacknai for wrongful death. A civil jury found Shacknai liable for Zahau's death. However, a year later, the family settled with Shacknai's insurance company. The case was then dismissed, and the verdict vacated.

During Thursday's news conference, Greer had on display several visual aids, including a mannequin meant to represent Zahau, bound and gagged, hanging from a railing. He cut down the rope holding the mannequin up to try and show Shacknai was lying when he told the civil jury he had to stand on a table to cut the rope.

"Anybody looking at this case, looking at the evidence says 'This can't be suicide, this cannot be suicide.' No woman would do this to herself, naked, exposed to the world," said Greer.

"[Rebecca] was just a genuinely nice human being that was brutally murdered, and there's still nothing been done about it," he added.

While Greer says there was evidence revealed at the civil trial that may be new to the medical examiner's office, he said there is no new evidence in the case.

"No new findings, this evidence has been in front of everybody for 10 years. You look at it, I'm screaming from the hills "Murder in our backyard people! Why aren't we doing anything about it?" This community should be incensed," said Greer.

A spokesperson for the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office sent CBS 8 this statement:

"We haven’t received the petition, but the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office did a thorough investigation of Ms. Zahau’s case in 2011 per California Government Code Section 27491. In 2018, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Glenn Wagner reviewed the case and made no changes to the certified cause and manner of death."

A spokesperson for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department sent CBS 8 this statement:

"The San Diego County Sheriff's Department maintains the highest quality and standards throughout our work and investigations. If the findings from the Medical Examiner's office were to change, we would request the State Attorney General's Office or other appropriate outside agency complete the re-opened investigation. We would fully cooperate with their investigation, provide them all evidence and documentation, and answer any follow-up questions they had."

WATCH RELATED: Zahau family drops lawsuit against former San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore 

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