SANTA ANA — In opening statements Monday, a prosecutor described a former NFL linebacker charged with murder as a desperately broke former athlete who couldn't hold down a job and had one thing going for him: a rich girlfriend.
Prosecutors claim that Eric Naposki entered the house of Bill McLaughlin on Dec. 15, 1994, and shot the Newport Beach millionaire six times for financial gain.
Naposki was dating McLaughlin's girlfriend, Nanette Ann Packard, who had taken out a $1-million life insurance policy on the businessman and stood to gain $150,000 annually in free rent at McLaughlin's beachfront home in the event of his death.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew Murphy described Naposki as "beyond broke" and deeply in debt, but who had started a new relationship with the girlfriend of a wealthy man that allowed him to travel across the country on romantic getaways — on McLaughlin's dime.
During a 2 1/2-hour PowerPoint presentation to jurors and a courtroom packed with about 80 spectators, Murphy outlined interviews between police and Naposki where, prosecutors allege, he became increasingly defensive. Murphy pointed to circumstantial evidence that Naposki owned the same type of gun used in the slaying, and that that gun was loaded with the same type of bullets when it was found with a friend.
"The one good thing for Mr. Naposki: the relationship with Nanette progressing nicely," Murphy said.
"At 9:10 and one second, when Mr. McLaughlin's heart stopped beating, Nanette became a millionaire."
Naposki, who played for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in the late 1980s, worked as a bouncer at the Thunderbird Nightclub, which was 131 yards from McLaughlin's home, according to the Orange County district attorney's office. On the night of the murder, Naposki was said to have arrived late, and prosecutors believe that Naposki left the crime scene and went straight to work.
In his opening statements, Murphy noted that the killer had an original pedestrian key with access to the area — something that was coveted and difficult to acquire unless someone lived in the community, as Packard did.
He also noted that Packard and Naposki were house shopping just before McLaughlin's death, looking for homes in the $900,000 range, despite the fact that neither of them had any assets of their own.
In his presentation to the jury, Murphy portrayed McLaughlin as a trusting family man, who after a divorce that ended a 25-year marriage, wanted companionship. He sought that in Packard and was unaware of her indiscretions with Naposki, Murphy said. In the slideshow, Murphy showed pictures of the McLaughlin family, McLaughlin and Packard around Christmastime, and Packard with a large ring on her finger.
At the time of his death, McLaughlin had a young adult son, Kevin McLaughlin, who suffered brain damage as a result of being hit by a drunk driver while on his skateboard in 1991. McLaughlin's body was discovered by Kevin, according to the D.A.'s office.
The prosecution ended its opening statements Monday with one phrase: "You're going to hold this man accountable for what he did. I guarantee it."
The prosecution called its first witness before the defense's opening statements, which are scheduled for Tuesday. Kimberly S. McLaughlin-Bayless, McLaughlin's daughter who was grown up at the time of the killing, was asked to the stand and testified to the happy family life she had growing up, and the bond between her family as well as her brother Kevin's condition.
Packard is also charged with murder with sentence enhancement for murder for gain and is set to appear in court July 8.
Naposki, 44, who was living in Greenwich, Conn., when arrested, faces life in prison if convicted for the 1994 slaying.