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Ex-NFL linebacker convicted in 1994 murder

Eric Naposki was accused of plotting William McLaughlin's slaying with the businessman's fiancee. He faces life in prison.

July 15, 2011|By Lauren Williams and Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times
  • Eric Naposki was found guilty of the 1994 shooting death of William McLaughlin. Prosecutors say Naposki sought to collect a $1-million insurance policy.
Eric Naposki was found guilty of the 1994 shooting death of William McLaughlin.… (H. Lorren Au Jr. / Associated…)

A former NFL linebacker was found guilty Thursday of shooting a wealthy Newport Beach businessman to death in a plot to collect on a $1-million life insurance policy.

Eric Naposki, a onetime linebacker with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, was accused of plotting William McLaughlin's murder with the businessman's fiancee, Nanette Ann Packard, in December 1994.

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

As the verdict was read, Naposki shook his head and turned to look at his fiancee, who was sitting behind him in the audience. "It's OK, it's OK," he mouthed to her.

Naposki faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced in October.

Packard is also accused of murder for financial gain. Her trial is scheduled for November. In 1996, she 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. She was sentenced to one year in jail.

Authorities said Packard and Naposki were romantically involved at the time and detectives long suspected them of involvement in McLaughlin's killing. But the case went cold.

In 2007, Newport Beach detectives reopened the investigation.

In 2009, they arrested Naposki and Packard. Naposki was living in Connecticut, and Packard, who had married, was living in Ladera Ranch.

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 that Packard had provided and then shooting McLaughlin, who was 55, six times in the chest.

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

Naposki told investigators he was heading to work after a soccer game for one of Packard's children at the time of McLaughlin's death and had no time to commit the crime, said Matt Murphy, the deputy Orange County district attorney who prosecuted the case.

But investigators "drove all the routes, over and over," Murphy told reporters Thursday, and found there would have been enough time for Naposki to commit the crime.

lauren.williams@latimes.com

sam.quinones@latimes.com

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