Ex-NFL player found guilty of murder

SANTA ANA — A jury on Thursday found a former NFL player guilty of murdering his lover's boyfriend for financial gain in Newport Beach.

Eric Naposki, 44, was found guilty of first-degree murder for plotting the shooting death of Bill McLaughlin on Dec. 15, 1994. The Orange County Superior Court jury agreed with prosecutors on all counts, and added a sentence enhancement for murder for financial gain.

As the verdict was read in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, Naposki shook his head and turned to look at his fiancée, who was sitting behind him in the audience. "It's OK, it's OK," Naposki mouthed to her.

Both of McLaughlin's daughters hugged prosecutors afterward.

"We've always been hopeful," daughter Jenny McLaughlin told reporters after the verdict.

Naposki, once a linebacker with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, had been dating McLaughlin's girlfriend, Nanette Ann Packard.

The ex-football player, who at the time of the slaying was working as a bouncer at the Thunderbird Nightclub in Newport Beach, was accused of entering McLaughlin's home with a key Packard provided him and then shooting the businessman six times in the chest.

McLaughlin's 24-year-old son, upstairs at the time of the shooting, told police he heard the shots and then found his father's body. He said the intruder, however, was gone.

Sentencing for Naposki is set for Oct. 21.

Packard, 46, of Ladera Ranch — previously known as Nanette Ann Johnston — is also charged in the incident. She is expected to stand trial in the fall.

Packard has already pleaded guilty to theft and forgery for taking nearly $500,000 from McLaughlin's bank accounts, including cashing a $250,000 check the day before he was shot.

Packard had taken out a $1-million life insurance policy on McLaughlin, who was 55 when he was killed. She also stood to gain $150,000 a year in free rent at McLaughlin's beachfront home in the event of his death.

The 1994 case went cold until police said they uncovered evidence that linked Packard and Naposki to the killing.

One crucial piece of evidence police used was the time it took to get from McLaughlin's home to the Thunderbird Nightclub, which was nearby and was where Naposki worked.

At the time, Naposki told police of his whereabouts, which he claimed left him no time to commit the murder. Prosecutors, however, timed the drive Naposki claimed to have made. Each time, police found there was ample time to commit the murder.

"We drove all the routes, over and over," prosecutor Matt Murphy told reporters on Thursday. "He could have done the murder over and over. It was crystal clear Eric Naposki did it. … We always had confidence the jury would do the right thing."

Prosecutors and family members pointed to the police work at the Newport Beach Police Department as key in bringing McLaughlin's murderer to justice. Describing Newport Beach police, Murphy said they are as "hardworking and dedicated as any police department on the planet."

McLaughlin's violent death shocked the normally quiet Balboa Coves community, where he was a fixture. The businessman was well known in medical circles after inventing a prototype blood-filtering device for collecting plasma.

Hugging her sister Jenny at the waist in front of news cameras, daughter Kim McLaughlin told reporters that she believes the job is only half over, and she is hoping for a conviction in Packard's case.

"One down, one to go," she said. "We're getting there."

— Los Angeles Times Assistant City Editor Steve Marble also contributed to this report.

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