SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Rebecca Zahau, who was found naked and hanging from a second-story balcony of a Coronado mansion on July 13, 2011, can proceed to trial, a San Diego Superior Court judge ruled Friday.
Two days earlier, Max Shacknai, the 6-year-old son of Zahau's millionaire boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai, fell over a second-floor railing while Zahau was watching him. The boy lingered for three days before dying.
After a lengthy investigation, authorities ruled Zahau's death a suicide.
Keith Greer, the attorney for the Zahau family, alleges in the wrongful death suit that Jonah Shacknai's brother, Adam Shacknai, and Jonah's ex-wife Dina Shacknai and her sister Nina Romano were behind the 32-year-old woman's death.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants' motive for killing Zahau was revenge for the accident in the mansion that killed Max Shacknai.
The complaint alleges that Dina Shacknai and Nina Romano went to the mansion on July 13, 2011, to confront Zahau.
A witness said she heard a woman scream "help, help, help!'' about 11:20 p.m.
The plaintiffs allege that Zahau tried to run and was hit in the back of the head, then strangled by Adam Shacknai.
The complaint alleges the defendants painted the words "She saved him. Can you save her?'' on a door near the balcony where Zahau was left hanging.
In July 2013, Zahau's family filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit in federal court, but the court refused to take jurisdiction of the claims for Zahau's estate, and a suit was filed in state court.
In a hearing today before Judge Katherine Bacal, attorneys for the defendants failed in their efforts to get the case dismissed.
The judge set a trial date for March 10, 2017.