By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
It’s law enforcement’s theory that McNeal dropped off Naposki at his apartment in Tustin so that he could take his own vehicle to McLaughlin’s or she drove him straight there. Either way, cops believe McNeal established an additional fraudulent alibi by buying a vase at Crate & Barrel inside South Coast Plaza 20 minutes after Naposki fired six 9 mm shots into the 55-year-old McLaughlin, and then fled 250 feet away to his job as a bouncer at the Thunderbird nightclub (now closed) in Lido Village. That night, Naposki arrived at work late for his 9 p.m. shift.
While the defense claims Murphy doesn’t “have a scintilla of evidence,” the prosecutor introduced non-exculpatory evidence including:
• Montgomery found a new eyewitness who claims Naposki told her prior to the killing that he wanted McLaughlin dead.
• Though Naposki and McNeal had combined assets worth no more than a couple of thousand dollars, they were observed repeatedly shopping together before the murder for a large, million-dollar-plus home in Irvine’s exclusive Turtle Rock area.
• The killer obtained a key to silently enter McLaughlin’s home.
• Naposki had recorded McLaughlin’s license-plate number in a notebook he kept in his vehicle.
• Though police hadn’t publicized the caliber of the murder weapon, Naposki distanced himself from owning a 9 mm handgun, the type used by the killer. Eventually, Naposki admitted he had owned a Beretta 9 mm, but, he claimed, he’d given it to a friend prior to the murder; that friend denied the story, claiming he was given a .380 caliber handgun, which contained the “exact same brand” of ammunition used by the killer.
• McNeal asked people not to tell police about her romance with Naposki.
• In the hours surrounding the murder, McNeal forged $350,000 in checks from McLaughlin’s bank account to herself.
“As soon as Bill McLaughlin realizes that Nanette is stealing from him, I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that their relationship is not going to be healthy,” said Murphy. “The evidence is overwhelming that these two people conspired and murdered him.”