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Newport Beach woman gets life in prison in 1994 murder plot

But sentencing for Nanette Packard-McNeal's accomplice, former New England Patriot Eric Naposki, was continued because he refused to leave his holding cell.

May 19, 2012|By Lauren Williams, Los Angeles Times
  • Nanette Packard-McNeal in court in January 2012, when she was convicted of arranging to have her wealthy boyfriend killed. On Friday, she was sentenced to life in prison.
Nanette Packard-McNeal in court in January 2012, when she was convicted… (Leonard Ortiz / Pool photo )

A Newport Beach woman who arranged for a former NFL player to kill her wealthy boyfriend in a 1994 plot to collect $1 million in insurance money was sentenced Friday to life in prison.

But sentencing for onetime New England Patriot linebacker Eric Naposki was continued to Aug. 10 after he refused to leave his courthouse holding cell. The prosecutor called Naposki's actions "a final blaze of no class and cowardice" by the man who fired six gunshots into the chest of Bill McLaughlin, who died in his Balboa Coves home.

Nanette Packard-McNeal seemed devoid of emotion as McLaughlin's family members took turns berating her during sentencing.

"Your one life has been a complete and utter waste," one of the businessman's daughters told Packard-McNeal. "An abomination," she added.

McLaughlin's brother dismissed Packard-McNeal as "a true black widow."

Jurors had convicted Packard-McNeal, 46, and Naposki in McLaughlin's slaying, part of an alleged plot to cash in on the man's $1-million life insurance policy.

Portrayed as a femme fatale and manipulator, Packard-McNeal was living with McLaughlin and spending and stealing his money while dating other men, prosecutors said during the trial.

Prosecutor Matt Murphy said Packard-McNeal had to kill McLaughlin because it was only a matter of time before he realized she was cheating on him or stealing his money.

But her attorney, Mick Hill, argued that his client had the perfect setup with McLaughlin — he was rich, was largely absent and owned a nice home — and wouldn't want to ruin it by eliminating him.

The slaying had been one of the more perplexing unsolved homicides in Orange County until Naposki and Packard-McNeal were arrested in 2009.

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-McNeal had provided.

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 was gone.

Businessman McLaughlin was well known in medical circles for inventing a prototype blood-filtering device for collecting plasma.

Packard-McNeal, who once cut a striking figure in the courtroom, appeared haggard, the blond streak in her brown curly hair faded. She wore a pink cardigan, black shirt and black skirt, and she didn't face McLaughlin's family as they spoke.

Murphy said Packard-McNeal had been using contraband hair dye to maintain her appearance.

"Jail," the prosecutor said, "has not been kind to her."

Los Angeles Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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