Former NFL player convicted of murder

A jury on Thursday found a former NFL linebacker guilty of

killing a Southern California millionaire nearly 17 years ago.

Orange County jurors found Eric Naposki guilty of first-degree

murder in the shooting death of William McLaughlin in his Newport

Beach home in 1994. The panel also found true a special

circumstance allegation that Naposki committed the murder for

financial gain and that he personally discharged a firearm.

Naposki, wearing a pink shirt and tie, shook his head as jurors

read the verdict. As he was led away from the courtroom in

handcuffs, he mouthed `I love you’ to his fiancee, who was crying.

Several jurors stayed after the verdict to speak with the victim’s

family but declined to discuss the case with reporters. His fiancee

declined to comment.

Sentencing for the former New England Patriots and Indianapolis

Colts linebacker is scheduled for Oct. 21.

Authorities said Naposki was romantically involved with

McLaughlin’s girlfriend, Nanette Johnson Packard, who stood to

collect $1 million in life insurance from McLaughlin’s death. She

also is charged with murder and her trial is scheduled for later

this year.

Both Naposki and Packard had long been suspected in the 1994

shooting death, but the case went cold until police said they

uncovered evidence that linked the pair to the killing.

McLaughlin’s daughter, Kim McLaughlin, spoke with reporters

outside the courthouse after the verdict was read.

”My dad is honored today. We’re very grateful. This is one

down, one to go,” said McLaughlin while fighting back tears.

Prosecutors said Naposki was given a key to McLaughlin’s home by

Packard and shot him six times. After the shooting, Naposki headed

to his job at a nearby bar where he was a bouncer, prosecutors

said.

Defense attorneys argued that Naposki had an alibi and that

Packard was the only one who had the motive, means and opportunity

to kill McLaughlin.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said outside court

that investigators retraced the route from a Santa Ana Denny’s

restaurant to McLaughlin’s home to rebuff defense attorney’s claims

that Naposki could not have made it there in time to be the

killer.

”He told a million lies when he spoke to the police,” Murphy

said, adding that investigators drove multiple possible routes.

”Once that was done it was crystal clear that Eric Naposki

committed that murder,” Murphy said.

Defense attorney Gary Pohlson was not present outside the

courthouse for comment after the verdict was announced. A phone

message left at his office was not immediately returned.

Packard also was accused of writing hundreds of thousands of

dollars’ worth of checks drawn from his accounts. Packard pleaded

guilty in 1996 to stealing nearly $500,000 from McLaughlin before

and after his death. She was sentenced to one year in jail for that

crime.

McLaughlin made his fortune as the founder of a company that

developed a device that separates plasma from blood.