Eric Naposki

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Eric Naposki
No. 91, 51
Position: Linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1966-12-20) December 20, 1966 (age 51)
New York City
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High school: Eastchester (NY)
College: Connecticut
Undrafted: 1988
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Eric Andrew Naposki (born December 20, 1966) is a convicted murderer serving life in prison without parole. He was formerly a professional football player who played in the National Football League and World League of American Football from 1988 to 1997. He played two seasons with the New England Patriots, one season with the Indianapolis Colts, and four seasons with the Barcelona Dragons, winning World Bowl V in his last season.[1] While with the Dragons, Naposki recorded 16.5 sacks in 3.5 seasons with one touchdown, one interception, and several blocked punts and field goals. He was also a reserve player in camps with the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets.

On May 21, 2009, Naposki was arrested in Connecticut and charged with a murder committed in December 1994 in Newport Beach, California. He was charged with killing Bill McLaughlin so that McLaughlin's girlfriend, Nanette Johnston, could collect his life insurance. Naposki was romantically linked to Johnston at the time.[2] On July 14, 2011, Naposki was convicted of the murder. He was scheduled to be sentenced on October 21, 2011; however, on that date sentencing was delayed until 2012.[3] On January 23, 2012 a jury also convicted Nanette Johnston for the murder.[4] On August 10, 2012 Naposki was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.[5]

Education[edit]

Naposki, a native of Tuckahoe, New York, played Pop Warner Football with the "Blue Devils" out of Eastchester, New York, for eight seasons. He later attended Tuckahoe H.S. as well as Roosevelt H.S., the latter in Yonkers, New York, before transfer during his junior year to Eastchester High School. At Eastchester, he led the team in sacks and tackles for two years, with the team going 17-3 during his tenure at linebacker position. Naposki also played safety, tight end and running back in goal line situations. He was named All County in 1982, and All State in 1983 and graduated from Eastchester in 1984.[citation needed]

He was offered partial scholarships by New Hampshire, New Haven and Buffalo, but decided to attend the University of Connecticut (UConn) on a full football scholarship. At the time, UConn played as a Division 1-AA in the now defunct Yankee Conference. However, midway through his third year at UConn, he quit the football team over a disagreement with his coach, Tom Jackson. Naposki, who had NFL aspirations, decided to forgo his scholarship and withdrew from the university. He returned to UConn to complete his degree in 1987, although he left again for two years to pursue the NFL and received his degree in physical education in 1991.[citation needed]

Murder conviction[edit]

On July 14, 2011, an Orange County jury found Naposki guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of William "Bill" McLaughlin in his Newport Beach home on December 15, 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, which would have made him eligible for the death penalty, although ultimately the state did not seek the death penalty. The jury heard during more than three weeks of testimony, which included 28 witnesses and more than 240 exhibits, that Naposki had conspired with Nanette Johnston, his secret lover, to murder McLaughlin for financial gain.[6]

Witnesses testified that Johnston, also known in court documents as Nanette Packard McNeal (her married names), was a young woman with two small children who seduced McLaughlin, who was a quarter century her senior, after the wealthy health care entrepreneur had gone through a contentious divorce with his first wife of 24 years. Johnston began living with McLaughlin in his luxury home in a tight-knit gated community in Newport Beach, and managing his personal financial affairs.[6] The case went unsolved for 15 years before Naposki was charged in 2009. Johnston met McLaughlin after placing a magazine ad seeking the companionship of a wealthy man.[7]

On August 10, 2012 Naposki received a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole at his hearing before Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg. He was sentenced for the murder of McLaughlin.[5][8]

For her role in the murder, Nanette Johnston Packard McNeal was convicted of first-degree murder in January 2012.[9] She was also sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on May 18 of that year.[8]

On September 15, 2012, Naposki was transferred to the California Correctional Center at Susanville, California; on October 12, 2013, he was transferred to the California Correctional Facility at Corcoran.

On September 12, 2014 a California Court of Appeal rejected a four-pronged effort by Naposki. In September, an appellate lawyer working for Naposki told a three-justice appellate panel based in Santa Ana that there were four errors in the trial, including the government's 15-year delay in filing charges, faulty jury instructions, biased jury and improperly excluded evidence.

Justice William Rylaarsdam's 18-page opinion backed by colleagues Raymond Ikola and David Thompson analyzed and rejected each point, saying they found "no prejudicial error."

The panel noted that authorities charged Naposki and his girlfriend, Nanette Packard—the victim's live-in girlfriend—after an Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) cold case detective discovered new incriminating evidence; a female juror describing the ex-football player as "creepy" did not merit her removal; and that Judge William Froeberg did not err by blocking a police officer from answering a question about Naposki's facial expressions during a post-murder interview or refusing to give a defense-proposed jury instruction on the elements murder for financial gain.

The ruling left Naposki, whose professional football career soared in Europe as a member of the Barcelona Dragons during the 1990s, continuing to serve a life sentence without the possibility for parole inside Corcoran State Prison, also home to infamous killer Charles Manson.

Naposki has always maintained his innocence and is currently appealing his conviction. Naposki was convicted on strictly circumstantial evidence, as no weapon was ever found. There was no DNA, no fingerprints, no eyewitnesses and no surveillance tape. Naposki's defense contends that the sixteen-year delay in charging resulted in the loss of exculpatory evidence which backed up his alibi (which was found valid by the DA in 1995).

The TV series American Greed showed an episode about the murder in January 2017. The CBS TV series 48 Hours aired, on 29 October 2011, the episode titled "Murder in the O.C.". Naposki claims that he is innocent and is interviewed about his conviction.[10]

As of March 11, 2018 The Orange County Innocence Project has begun review of Naposki's case and conviction with an emphasis on the analysis of circumstantial evidence and the dealings of the Orange County Prosecutor who brought the charges to the Grand Jury 16 years after the fact with special emphasis on lost records from the initial investigation that could have cleared Mr Naposki.

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