Accused murderer Nanette Ann Packard entered a hushed Santa Ana courtroom this afternoon from her holding cell and, if her frown and slouching shoulders were any indication, didn't believe she'd be receiving happy news.
Packard's instincts were right.
During a hearing that lasted nine minutes, an Orange County jury of nine women and three men announced a guilty verdict for the Dec. 1994 ambush killing of Packard's boyfriend, wealthy Newport Beach businessman William McLaughlin.
Packard, 46, showed no emotion, but her adult daughter wept. Nearby, McLaughlin's two adult daughters looked relieved. Reporters from numerous Southern California news outlets as well as producers for various network news programs scribbled notes.
The verdict, reached in less than four hours, means that this notorious defendant is now officially a gold-digging slut, liar, thief and murderer.
It also means that Packard, who managed to outrun justice for a whopping 6,248 days, will likely never see freedom again. But that's up to Froeberg. The judge has scheduled a May 18 sentencing date for her and her partner in crime, ex-New England Patriot's linebacker Eric Naposki.
Michael Hill, Packard's public defender, had passionately argued that while his client was a slut, thief and liar she wasn't a killer. According to Hill, Naposki acted alone. During Naposki's trial, his New York-based legal team claimed that Packard was the killer. Go figure.
The cold-case crime is now officially solved because the Newport Beach Police Department refused to close the case. NBPD also deserves credit for being professional enough to ask for the help of homicide prosecutor Matt Murphy and arguably Orange County's most skilled law enforcement detective, DA investigator Larry Montgomery. The joint investigation produced new, damning leads many years after the killing.
Naposki--probably the cockiest murder defendant in Orange County history, even after a jury essentially declared him a cowardly scumbag several months ago--continues to tell any TV news crew willing to visit the Orange County Jail that he's innocent and knows the identity of the real killer.
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Back in reality: Using keys provided by Packard, who lived with McLaughlin, Naposki entered the millionaire's Balboa Coves waterfront home, caught his victim unarmed in his kitchen and fired six hollow-tip bullets into him before fleeing.
How's this for an uplifting contrast: Jenny McLaughlin, the murder victim's oldest daughter, spent part of the day before the verdict passionately lobbying reporters to write about Free Wheelchair Mission, an international charity that provides wheelchairs to handicapped people in Third World countries.
"It's a really good cause," she said.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly