If all you knew about the sensational 1994 murder of a wealthy Newport Beach businessman was based on what you heard last night on CBS "48 Hours," you might sympathize with the convicted killer in the case: ex-NFL linebacker Eric Naposki.
Dressed in street clothes instead of his actual daily jail garb, Naposki not surprisingly appeared animated and confident as he proclaimed his innocence, slammed his prosecutor, portrayed his jurors as dupes and predicted one day he will be absolved of any role in the murder of William McLaughlin, who was worth more than $55 million.
"They [law enforcement] don't have any [evidence]--not one bit of what you call 'hard evidence,'" Naposki said in a taped interview from the Orange County Jail, where he awaits a sentencing hearing early next year and likely life in prison punishment. "They built a case on cards and it will come down eventually."
The former New England Patriot and Indianapolis Colt is right that DNA, fingerprints or an eyewitness never tied him to the murder scene. But circumstantial evidence---especially when there is a substantial pile of it--also can be damning. The circumstantial evidence that landed Naposki in his present condition was, veteran police detectives and 12 jurors firmly believed, plentiful--even if part of it wasn't highlighted on the broadcast.
Repeatedly adding significant lies to an ongoing homicide investigation normally isn't the work of an innocent person.
And there is also this pesky fact that should worry Naposki's fans: The defense tried to blame the killing on one of McLaughlin's ex-business partners. That flopped. Defense lawyers then asked jurors to believe that McLaughlin's son, brain-damaged and handicapped after being hit by a drunk driver, fired the fatal shots so that he could smoke pot in peace. That fizzled. Then they implicated unnamed, trigger-happy Mexican drug cartel gangsters.
When that absurd effort tanked, the defense found another villain: Packard. During the trial, the defense claimed that she was the mastermind and the shooter, who slept with their innocent, gullible client for two years in an effort to make him the key suspect. Based on the verdict, that theory failed too.
But the ever cocky, sexually-assured Naposki--who is appealing his conviction and whining to reporters about the alleged incompetence of defense lawyers Gary Pohlson and Angelo MacDonald--isn't done with the blame game. Last night, he told the CBS audience that he knows the identity of the real killer: a hit man--not him--hired by Packard, who faces her own trial in coming weeks.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
I'm guessing that prosecutor Matt Murphy and DA investigator Larry Montgomery rolled their eyes at this latest jailhouse tale.
We should too.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly