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Former NFL player sentenced to life for millionaire’s death in 1994

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Posted at 8:43 PM, Aug 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-11 20:43:55-04

A former NFL player cursed at his prosecutor, argued with the daughter of his murder victim and angrily claimed his innocence Friday moments before he was sentenced to life in prison for the special circumstances shooting death of a Newport Beach millionaire in a 1994 plot orchestrated by his former girlfriend. Eric Naposki, 46, was convicted in July 2011 of murdering health-care entrepreneur William F. McLaughlin in his Balboa Coves residence on Newport Bay on Dec. 15, 1994. His sentencing was delayed for more than a year while his defense team prepared a motion for a new trial.

Superior Court Judge William Froeberg, who denied the new trial motion, said the circumstantial evidence against Naposki was overwhelming.

Froeberg handed down the mandatory sentence after he listened to a poignant victim-impact statement from Kim Bayless, one of McLaughlin’s daughters, who stared straight at Naposki and challenged him to honor her father – “the man you murdered – by changing your horrific ways.”

She told Naposki, who stared straight back from his seat at a counsel table a few feet away, that he lied when he claimed he never stepped inside her father’s home in Balboa Coves.

“It’s not a lie,” Naposki interrupted.

“You are full of lies,” Bayless retorted, staring back.

Moments later, when Naposki was being escorted out of the courtroom with his feet in shackles and his hands chained to his waist, he leaned toward Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy and hissed “you f—— blew it.”

Murphy, who convinced an Orange jury during a headline-making, three-week trial more than a year ago that Naposki conspired with Nanette Johnston, his lover, to murder McLaughlin for financial gain, shot back, “Bye-bye.”

“I’ll see you again,” Naposki responded, as he was led out of the courtroom.

Johnston, also known in court documents as Nanette Packard, was an attractive younger woman who seduced McLaughlin, who was 25 years her senior, after the wealthy health-care entrepreneur had gone through a nasty divorce with his wife of 24 years. Soon, Johnston was living with McLaughlin in his luxury home in a tight-knit gated community in Newport Beach and managing his personal financial affairs.

Johnston persuaded McLaughlin to name her as a beneficiary of a $1 million life insurance policy, to put her in his will, and to promise her that she could live in his beach house on Seashore Drive in the event of his death, as well as to give her title to a luxury Infiniti sedan, according to Murphy.

Murphy said Johnston was also stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from McLaughlin’s bank accounts in the months and weeks before his murder and secretly carrying on an affair with Naposki, who in 1994 was a muscular man who spent parts of two seasons playing linebacker for the NFL Colts and Patriots

Johnston was desperate to have McLaughlin killed in December 1994 before he found out either that she was stealing from him, or that she was cheating on him with the much-younger Naposki.

Johnston, 47, was convicted of special circumstances murder during a separate trial in January, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

She claimed through her attorney during her trial that Naposki killed McLaughlin on his own out of jealousy and that she had nothing to do with it. Naposki returned the favor in his trial and again on Friday, when he blamed Johnston for the slaying and claimed he was unaware of the plot.

The two trials unfolded in a large courtroom on the 10th floor, often with more than 100 spectators in the gallery, including news reporters, court watchers and McLaughlin’s friends and family.