SANTA ANA — Jurors heard the first part of closing arguments Wednesday in the case against a woman accused of plotting the death of her boyfriend, a wealthy Newport Beach businessman.
Nanette Packard-McNeal, 46, is accused of conspiring with her lover, Eric Naposki, a former NFL linebacker, to kill Bill McLaughlin, 55, in December 1994. She was dating McLaughlin while also seeing Naposki. She has pleaded not guilty.
Naposki was found guilty of McLaughlin's murder in a separate trial over the summer.
Packard-McNeal was brought into the courtroom handcuffed and appearing frail in a white cardigan sweater and black slacks.
"This woman is a manipulator of men, unlike any that I hope any of you have ever seen before," Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said to jurors. "That is her talent on this earth. She manipulates men and leaves a trail of destruction."
In a roughly two-hour PowerPoint presentation, Murphy laid out facts from a police investigation of events leading up to and after the crime.
Among the most damaging, Murphy said, is that Packard-McNeal knew that McLaughlin was home the night of the murder and that, of the two keys used to access the house, one was a copy of the house key, which she had access to. The other was her own gate key.
Packard-McNeal also continued her relationship with Naposki immediately after the murder, including spending Christmas with him and flying him to San Francisco on the McLaughlin's credit card.
"There's no way she can't do the math on those keys," Murphy said. "If she's innocent, there's no way she's not going to figure out who the killer is."
Murphy also cited Packard-McNeal's increasing levels of alleged theft from McLaughlin, which peaked at a $250,000 check she wrote to a just-opened business account in December, and taking Naposki to look at homes worth more than $900,000.
Defense attorney Mick Hill argued in court Jan. 9 that Packard-McNeal is dishonest, unfaithful and only interested in men with money, but those character flaws do not mean she is a murderer.
The public defender described McLaughlin as Packard-McNeal's "goose who laid the golden egg" — meaning she would not murder the man who was paying her living expenses.
Hill will present his closing statements, to be followed by a final statement from Murphy, at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Naposki is scheduled to be sentenced 9 a.m. Friday.