Did ex-NFL player, girlfriend, kill millionaire?
Produced by Patti Aronofsky and Gayane Keshishyan
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. -- The murder of Bill McLaughlin rattled the quiet gated community of Balboa Coves and devastated Bill's daughters, Jenny and Kim.
"My mom called and told me. It's too terrible to hear. Somebody had come into our house and shot him in the chest," Kim McLaughlin told "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Troy Roberts.
On Dec. 15, 1994, the multi-millionaire entrepreneur, a devoted father and family man, was living the good life in Newport Beach when someone entered his home, shot him six times, and then fled.
Newport Beach detectives struggled to piece together the puzzle.
"To have a murder occur here was very uncommon," said Tom Voth, who was the lead detective on the case. "There were no fingerprints. DNA was very early in its stages... There were no weapons found."
After hearing gunshots, McLaughlin's son, Kevin, who was upstairs listening to music, came down to investigate. After finding his father, he immediately called 911.
"And he cannot communicate to the 911 operator because of his brain disability," prosecutor Matt Murphy explained. Kevin had suffered a severe brain injury after being hit by a drunk driver.
Kevin told police he didn't see the killer.
"So there wasn't much to go on?" Roberts asked.
"No, no sir," said Voth.
But the night before his murder, Bill McLaughlin had called his brother, Patrick.
"I could tell right away something was wrong...he was in Las Vegas calling me," Patrick McLaughlin told Roberts. "...he was feeling as though his life was threatened. Just the way he talked to me. It was like people were out to get him."
"And we were very worried about our own safety," Kim explained. "Who has done this? Are they after the family? Are they after my dad?"
Detectives began pouring over every personal detail of Bill McLaughlin's life. His world of privilege in Newport Beach, Calif., was a far cry from his humble beginnings on the south side of Chicago.
"He was always the self-made guy, really," said Patrick.
At 18, Bill joined the Marines, and eventually moved to California. He was first in his family to go to college.
"He loved the ocean," Patrick said. "He wanted to be the kind of guy that would make a difference."
And he did. Bill McLaughlin would develop a groundbreaking device that separated plasma from blood, a huge advance in the healthcare field. And it made him a fortune.
Bill's best friend, Don Kalal, says McLaughlin was "probably [in] his early 30s" when he made his first million. But Kalal says that was just the beginning. By the time of his death, McLaughlin was worth an estimated $55 million.
"You don't amass that kind of fortune without stepping on some toes," Roberts noted.
"There was nobody that I knew that had a vendetta against him," said Kalal.
But in the months before his murder, Bill had been embroiled in a bitter lawsuit with Hal Fischel - a former business partner who helped him develop the plasma device.
"This had been a long difficult lawsuit," Jenny McLaughlin explained.
"Hal Fischel was the adversary in the lawsuit."
Fischel lost the suit and had to forfeit $9 million to McLaughlin. That sounded like a motive.
Voth said he considered Fischel a suspect in the case. But Fischel had an alibi - a good one. Eyewitnesses say he was in Santa Barbara, nearly a 150 miles north of Newport Beach, at the time of the murder.
Voth said Fischel was eliminated as a suspect "fairly quickly."
Besides, investigators were becoming more convinced the killer was part of Bill McLaughlin's inner circle. The clues kept leading them closer to home; in fact, directly to his front doorstep.
"When we arrived at the homicide scene in 1994, there were two keys located - we found the key in this door," Voth showed Roberts at the crime scene.
"In addition, they also found a key laying on the ground here. And the key that fits this lock right here, at the time also fit
the front door of the residence."
"What does that say?" Roberts asked.
"In all of our minds, that narrows the field of suspects down to those who have access to keys," Voth replied.
What's more, it had to be someone who knew Bill's schedule. McLaughlin flew his private plane to his second home in Nevada every week.
"His usual M.O. was to go to his house in Las Vegas, return home on Thursday night," Kalal told Roberts.
"He was a creature of habit you're saying?"
"Pretty much," Kalal replied. "His schedule was pretty much the same."
Police took a closer look at McLaughlin's family.
"They put paper bags over Kevin's hands and they did a forensic analysis of his hands, showing that Kevin did not fire a firearm that night," said Orange County Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy.
That left McLaughlin's two daughters and his ex-wife, all who had airtight alibis and no motive. And then there was Nanette Johnston -- Bill McLaughlin's much-younger fiancee, who he met through a magazine ad she placed looking for a wealthy, older man.
"'I know how to take care of a man. If he can take care of me." That's what she said," Patrick said of the ad.
"He was at a vulnerable time," Kim said. "And so here she comes along and she's making him feel good."
In return, Bill McLaughlin provided Nanette with a generous allowance and a lavish lifestyle.
"She immediately stepped into a lifestyle that most people would only dream of," Murphy explained. "She lived in a beautiful home. They went to Europe, they went on cruises, they went on exotic ski vacations. She had...jewelry, everything."
"Money meant the world to her," Kim said. "She would do anything for it."
"Did they seem to be in love?" Roberts asked.
"Not really," Kim replied. "Comfortable together, I'd say, but not in love."
"I didn't get their relationship," Kalal said. "I didn't get a strong connection between the two of them."
Within months, Nanette brought her two young children to live with Bill. His daughters, Kim and Jenny, became increasingly worried.
"I said, 'Dad, I don't really like her. I think she's with you for your money," said Kim.
"She knew how much he was worth," noted Roberts.
"Yes, definitely," she replied.
In spite of the warnings, McLaughlin proposed after about a year of dating.
"She told everyone she was his fiancee," said Jenny.
"She had a whopper of a ring," added Kim.
McLaughlin even wrote Nanette into his will.
"He wanted to make sure that if anything happened...that her and her kids would be taken care of," Murphy explained. "...he had a million dollar life insurance policy with her as the beneficiary."
On Dec. 15, 1994, Bill McLaughlin came home from Las Vegas and found a note from Nanette. She had gone to her son's soccer game and would be home late. When she pulled up to the house around 10 p.m., her fiance was dead.
"What was Nanette's alibi?" Roberts asked Voth.
"That she was at the soccer game. And directly after that she went shopping. She couldn't have possibly been involved in the murder because she had these receipts," he replied.
"Did her alibi check out?"
"No. Not completely."
Nanette had been at the soccer game, but with another man -- someone McLaughlin's family knew nothing about.
According to Jenny McLaughlin, "They said, 'Do you know who Eric Naposki is?' And we said, 'Absolutely not, who's that?' They said, 'This is Nanette's boyfriend. And we were like, 'Really? We thought our Dad was Nanette's boyfriend.'"
Bill McLaughlin's fiancee, Nanette Johnston, had a big secret: Eric Naposki, a 6'2", 250-pound professional football player for the NFL.
Naposki, a linebacker for the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, among other teams, was certain in December of 1994, that Nanette was his girlfriend.
He was even making plans to propose.
"You wanted to marry Nanette?" Roberts asked Naposki.
"I did," he replied.
"Do you think she really loved you?"
"She appeared to back then."
"Nanette seemed madly in love with him," Naposki's sister, Angela Licata, said. "I liked her. She had two small children - they were wonderful children... We thought she was the one for Eric because she was strong and she was intelligent. And we thought it was a good match."
Dave Matthews couldn't believe his high school buddy was smitten.
"Eric, back then...you know, he's a good looking, charming funny guy with great energy," Matthews said. "I mean, he's a tough one to fall in love because he dates a lot."
But with Nanette, things were different. "This wasn't just a regular girl," said Matthews.
Naposki's former roommates, Rob Frias and Leonard Jomsky, agreed.
"She was a bombshell," Frias said. "She was very attractive. It was hard to miss her."
"She was beautiful," Jomsky added. "I mean without a doubt. She was a really, really pretty girl."
But to Naposki, there was much more to Nanette than her looks.
"She graduated college early," Naposki told "48 Hours." "She wrote business plans for a living."
"She had this concept for...like prototype design for a device...it separates plasma from blood, it's really cool," Matthews explained. "They winded up selling it making tens of millions."
Nanette told them she took her invention to her boss, Bill McLaughlin.
It was Nanette's tale of how she became very rich and how McLaughlin went from being her boss to being her business partner.
"From the very beginning, she told me exactly what she was doing with Bill McLaughlin, as far as a mentor and as far as a business relationship. And it sounded really good," Naposki told Roberts.
"You never suspected that she and Bill McLaughlin shared an intimate relationship?" Roberts asked Naposki.
"I never once suspected," he replied. "Bill was an investor and Nanette also took part in his investments. ...she would tell everyone the same story."
Not only did she take credit for Bill McLaughlin's work, but Nanette claimed his money was her own.
"She came over with a new car one time - a dark green Cadillac," Frias recalled.
Bill McLaughlin had bought it for her, but that's not what Nanette told them.
"She said she went out and wrote a check somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000," Frias continued.
Nanette told them she and her business partner were investors in high-end real estate.
"...that she owned a $5 million beach house in Newport," said Naposki.
Naposki says Nanette told him she also shared a million-dollar home with her colleague, Bill, where they had separate bedrooms.
To Eric Naposki, she was clearly a self-made success story - something he desperately wanted to be. But his football career was in jeopardy.
"In Giants Stadium... I'm making a sack and my foot twisted and I popped the arch in my foot," he explained.
Years of playing professional football was taking a toll. In the early 1990s, Naposki was trying to figure out what to do next.
"[I] started programs at the gym working with kids, trying to get their...athletic ability improved. ... Started a security company," he said.
And then, just two weeks before Bill McLaughlin's murder, Naposki got another job running security at the Thunderbird nightclub. It was located less than 200 yards from McLaughlin's home where he was killed.
Asked how he learned that Bill McLaughlin was murdered, Naposki told Roberts, "Nanette told me. ...She was shaken up. She was absolutely shaken up. ...I asked her, 'Was it a business deal?' ...And she went right to the business deal with ex-business partner Hal Fischel."
Naposki had heard about the animosity between the business partners, so Nanette's story sounded plausible. But then a week after the murder, everything changed.
"I notice there's a car following me," he said.
It was the police.
"They brought me to an interview room and started throwing questions at me," Naposki told Roberts. "Like, 'what's your relationship with Nanette?
Detective: What's your involvement or relationship?
Eric Naposki: Nanette's a pretty good friend of mine.
"He was very evasive," said Detective Voth. He remembers Naposki wouldn't give them a straight answer.
Detective: Would you describe it as a dating relationship, a boyfriend-girlfriend?
Eric Naposki: I wouldn't say a, a solo total, like I have girlfriends, you know.
"You weren't very honest with investigators," Roberts commented to Naposki. "If you're an innocent man, why would you do that?"
"I'm an innocent man now...there's no...handbook when you're being looking at as a suspect in a murder case," he replied.
Naposki was not forthcoming about Nanette and evasive when questioned about other things.
"He started off by saying he had no firearms," said Det. Voth.
Eventually, Naposki admitted to having a 9mm gun.
"What were you thinking when you heard he owned a 9mm?" Roberts asked Voth.
"I knew that...a 9mm was used in this crime," he replied.
Naposki refused to tell investigators where the gun was.
Detective: Where is your 9mm?
Eric Naposki: I have no idea.
Detective: You have no idea
Eric Naposki: That's my statement.
"Why weren't you truthful about the 9mm with police?" Roberts asked Naposki.
"I think I was just scared," he replied. "Because I didn't buy that 9mm for myself. ...That was Nanette's 9mm Beretta. ...I was scared to start throwing around, 'that's Nanette's gun. You know, go look at Nanette.' ...that would have been really like just pointing the finger."
Especially since, at the time, Naposki said he was convinced she had nothing to do with Bill McLaughlin's murder. And that the police were trying to frame them both.
"They're telling me, 'Well there's this relationship going on that you don't know about. And then she's telling me, 'there's no relationship that you don't know about,'" Naposki explained.
"Eric called home," his sister, Angela Licata, recalled. "He was hysterical crying and he said...'You know they think I killed this guy. They think I killed him."
Eric Naposki had an alibi. And he was sure back in 1995, that after authorities heard everything, he'd be exonerated.
"I guarantee you, looking you straight in the face Troy, Eric Naposki did not murder Bill McLaughlin any way you slice it...
"I couldn't have done it. The alibi allows me no time to commit any crime," Naposki told Troy Roberts.
For the first time ever, Naposki sat down for a television interview to answer questions about his whereabouts the night of Bill McLaughlin's murder.
His evening began with Nanette Johnston at her son's soccer game.
"It was a good game. It was a championship game," he told Roberts. "...and it ended pretty late."
Nanette, he says, then drove him to the town of Tustin where he lived.
"She drops me at my truck. I say good night.' She says she's gonna go do some shopping," he explained.
Naposki said he changed clothes and headed to his job at the Thunderbird nightclub in Newport Beach. But before he could get very far, his beeper went off.
"My page is from...one of the bosses, one of the managers at the Thunderbird," he said. "So I continued over the 55, used one of the payphones in the back of the Denny's and used my calling card."
Naposki said according to his calling card bill, it was 8:52 p.m. when he phoned the manager back from a local Denny's in Tustin.
"Phone records...put me in Tustin, which is...20 minutes outside Newport Beach," he told Roberts. "I hate to burst your bubble boys, but I wasn't in Newport at 9."
It's impossible, he told police, for him to have had a phone conversation at 8:52 p.m., then drive 12 miles to Newport Beach, sneak into Bill McLaughlin's house, shoot him and then flee before Bill's son discovered his father's body shortly after 9 p.m.
"You can't make it Troy. That's why they didn't arrest me back then. If you could make that drive, they would have arrested me in '95," Naposki continued. "I could not have committed this murder, period and end."
But it wasn't the end. About a month after the murder, Kim McLaughlin was looking over her father's financial records and got the surprise of her life.
"When December bank statements came in... I noticed a very big amount of money missing," she told Roberts.
Someone had written a check for a quarter of a million dollars on Dec. 14 - just one day before the murder.
"I thought, 'this is strange,'" Kim said. "...we alerted the banks that we needed to get copies of the check."
On the check, their father's signature was forged. Nanette Johnston, it tuned out, had cashed it.
"I was in shock," Kim said. "And then I continued to look further."
"Altogether how much money did she embezzle from your father?" Roberts asked.
"Gosh, probably close to half a million dollars," said Jenny.
"Money is a really strong motive for her," added Kim.
It was clear to Kim and Jenny that Nanette had to end their father's life before he found out that she was stealing from him -- stealing for a future with Eric Naposki. They called police.
Retired Det. Dave Byington remembers being frustrated when the district attorney refused to charge Eric Naposki and Nanette Johnston with murder.
"I felt very strongly that Nanette and Eric did this murder," Byington said. "The decision was made there wasn't enough evidence to file. But our guts told us that they were good for it."
The district attorney would only charge Nanette with forgery and theft.
"They've accused her of stealing money,' Naposki said." Of course she has a pretty good excuse for all of it, being signers on accounts and co-business partners."
Naposki said he wanted to believe Nanette -- that the money was hers. But then newspaper articles were referring to her as Bill McLaughlin's fiancee.
"So I look at her and I go, 'What the hell is this fiancee stuff?' She blamed it on a misquote. 'Well, they don't know what they're talking about. I'm not engaged to Bill. I've never been engaged to him. That's ridiculous.'"
"How did she explain her deceit?" Roberts asked Naposki.
"She never did," he replied.
"And you didn't demand answers?"
"I demanded 'em ...which lead to our breakup."
"Though it was six months later, right?"
"With a lot of in betweens."
"So, what were the circumstances surrounding the final breakup?"
"She wasn't happy," Naposki replied. "...I was on her every day about it."
Naposki finally left Southern California. And in March of 1996, Nanette pleaded guilty to forgery and theft and served 180 days. After Nanette was released from jail, she quickly began dating again.
"Nanette did what she always does," Byington explained. "She went looking for a new sugar daddy, someone else to support her."
Nanette married the very wealthy John Packard and had another child.
"She was a man hunter," Byington said. "And -- you know, so she used that sexuality as her main tool, to grab these guys."
That marriage ended in divorce, but Nanette quickly moved on, marrying businessman Bill McNeil and having yet another child.
"She was so aggressive that -- it wouldn't surprise -- if she had a trapeze set up in her bedroom," Byington continued. "You needed a playbook to keep track of the marriages."
Back on the East Coast, Eric Naposki had moved on with his life and fathered two children.
"Eric's my 11-year-old and Susanna is my 8-year-old," Naposki told Roberts. "Eric's a miniature me...plays football basketball, soccer. He's a great kid. ...And my daughter is the light of my life. Just always smiling, always happy."
Naposki picked up work as a personal trainer and promoted workout products. He even tried his hand at acting, going back to Orange County to film a pitch reel for a potential TV series called "Newport 40." Naposki played the tough guy.
"Kind of a male version of the 'Real Housewives of Orange County,'" said Rob Frias, one of the producers, who scripted Naposki's lines.
By 2009, Eric Naposki was finally settling down in quiet Greenwich, Conn. But one spring morning, his world turned upside down.
"There was about four vehicles strewn across the road with machine guns pointed at me. Over loudspeakers they were telling me to get out of the vehicle. ...they put me on the ground," he explained." ...I said, 'Am I under arrest' and they said, 'Yes. ...for murder.' There's no way. ...I couldn't believe it."
Almost 3,000 miles away in Orange County, Calif., Nanette Johnston Packard McNeil was also under arrest for murder.
"All of a sudden 15 years later, out of the blue to have a phone call from the detectives. 'We just made two arrests. Nanette and Eric are in jail.' We were overjoyed," said Kim McLaughlin.
"It's hard to get a fair trial 15 years later. Am I innocent? Absolutely, 100 percent," Naposki told Roberts. "I'm innocent. Can I prove it? I hope so. ...Can they prove I'm guilty? I don't think that's possible. Because I didn't do it."
Fifteen years after Bill McLaughlin was gunned down in his Balboa Coves home, Eric Naposki faces trial for a murder he says he didn't commit.
"I've never been in that house. Never ever," he told Troy Roberts. "I don't see any DNA, I don't see any fingerprints. I don't see any size 14 boot prints. I don't see any of that. If I was never there, how do I commit a crime, you know?"
Prosecutor Matt Murphy is confident he can do what prosecutors before him didn't - prove that Naposki was the shooter and Nanette Johnston got him to pull the trigger.
"Nanette is - her gift is the manipulation of men," said Murphy.
"She...told Eric Naposki in the months beforehand that Bill McLaughlin was sexually assaulting her. ...there's no reason for her to tell him that lie unless her plan is to manipulate him into actually committing the murder."
Murphy's case revolves around star witness Suzanne Cogar. In 1994, she lived next door to Eric Naposki and says he confided in her.
"Eric Naposki said, 'Bill McLaughlin keeps coming into Nanette's room at night.' And he was furious about it. And [Cogar] said that he was really, really upset," said Murphy.
So upset, that he said he wanted to blow up Bill McLaughlin's plane. Naposki says he was just letting off steam.
"I did tell her that I wanted to blow up his plane," he said. "I didn't say I wanted to kill Bill or that I wanted to shoot Bill or I want Bill blown away. His plane didn't blow up did it?"
But there was a second conversation with Cogar -- just three weeks after the murder -- where Murphy says Naposki implicates himself even further.
"She goes, 'Oh my God, Eric, I don't even wanna know if you had anything to do with it.' And he smiled and he said, 'Maybe I did, maybe I didn't,' and he said 'Maybe I had somebody do it,'" according to Murphy.
"I said, 'I didn't,' first. And then when she kept badgering me about it,' Naposki told Roberts. "It was more of a laughing conversation at that point...to me it's just an off-the-cuff comment."
But there's more to what Naposki told Cogar.
"He said 'the killer...used the same gun that I used to have. So the police think I did it,'" Murphy said. "The only people on the planet earth that knew a 9mm was used in the murder are...the Newport Beach Police Department and the killer."
John Pappalardo grew up with Eric Naposki in Westchester, New York.
"I believe him when he tells me he's not the shooter," Pappalardo said of the friend he first met in Little League.
Now a defense attorney, Pappalardo is determined to clear Naposki's name. He says he has never doubted Naposki's innocence.
"Did you ask him the question directly?" Roberts asked.
"He asked me the question today, 'Did you ever for a second doubt my innocence? Did you ever think for a second that I was the shooter?' I told him, 'Absolutely not,'" Pappalardo replied. "I'm confident we're gonna bring him home."
Pappalardo teams his most experienced attorney from New York, Angelo MacDonald, with well-respected Orange County defense attorney Gary Pohlson.
"Matt Murphy, as you know, has never lost a murder case. Does it worry you?" Roberts asked Pohlson.
"Yeah it worries me, but, he doesn't get to make up the evidence," he replied.
But just before trial, new forensic tests tie the shell casings from the gun that killed Bill McLaughlin to the exact make and model of the gun Eric Napoksi once owned - a 9mm Beretta.
"There are millions of 9mms in this country floating around," Roberts pointed out to Murphy.
"Millions, probably tens of millions...there's Glocks, there's Smith & Wessons, there's Brownings," he replied. "The only brand capable of expending the shell casings that the police recovered at the scene are Berettas."
If convicted, Eric Naposki and Nanette Johnson face life behind bars. Naposki stands trial first.
In court, Murphy immediately hones in on Naposki's history of lying to the police.
"Mr. Naposki lied about his relationship with Nanette," Murphy said in his opening statement. "And, of course, we know he lied about his 9mm."
"You just don't do that if you're innocent,' Murphy told "48 Hours."
"At every single significant point in the investigation, Eric Naposki acted exactly the way you would expect a guilty person to act."
In order to find him not guilty, the jury must believe Naposki's story that at 8:52 p.m. -- just minutes before Bill McLaughlin's murder -- he was about 12 miles away on a payphone at the Denny's restaurant.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the defense will prove that he possesses a solid, simple, logical, reasonable and compelling alibi," Angelo MacDonald told the court. "He simply could not have done it."
But it will be hard to convince the jury without evidence of Naposki's phone call. He says he no longer has copies of his bill and the phone company no longer has the records.
"That's a powerful piece of evidence...that the police never bothered to even lift a finger to try to get," MacDonald told Roberts.
"If we had the phone record, it might be open and shut case, right?" said Naposki.
Murphy doubts the call even happened, but if it did, he says it's hardly an alibi.
"As opposed to being an alibi, the timing of that actually fits perfectly," he said.
He sent his investigator, Larry Montgomery, to time the drive from the Denny's to Bill McLaughlin's home.
"I did at least 15 time trials," Montgomery explained "All of our tests show that he should have been able to arrive at the location...in order to do the killing."
But Naposki's defense lawyers have timed the drive, too.
"I do not think it's physically possible he could've made it in the required time," said MacDonald.
Asked how critical a matter of minutes is to his defense, MacDonald told Roberts, "Seconds could decide this case."
Angelo MacDonald, not unexpectedly, suggests to the jury a more likely shooter.
"Nanette Johnston is an accomplished liar, cheat, thief, manipulator, con woman and selfish, promiscuous, gold digger," MacDonald told the court in his opening statement.
"There's more evidence here that Nanette Johnston did this murder...So...let's us play prosecutor," he told Roberts. "She had the motive, she had the means. And...she's got the cold blooded heart, the sociopathic personality to do it."
"Do you believe Nanette was responsible for the murder of Bill McLaughlin? Is somehow involved?" Roberts asked Naposki.
"Yes," he replied.
"Did she play you?"
"I don't know. Seems like it," he said. "She was smarter than I was. I
didn't see it. I didn't see it."
Murphy has no problem letting the defense prosecute Nanette Johnston.
"I could not agree more," Murphy said. "If diabolical behavior was an Olympic sport, she'd be a gold medalist every year. ...She is a manipulator and an evil manipulator."
But he says Naposki was a willing participant.... he and Nanette were thick as thieves.
"Several months before the murder they're shopping for million-dollar homes. ...Eric Naposki was in debt...and Nanette had no money," Murphy explained. "The only way they could ever afford that house that they were looking at is if Bill McLaughlin died."
"I've heard the reason that Mr. McLaughlin was murdered is so I can buy a house... it's ridiculous," Naposki told Roberts.
But maybe the hardest thing for the defense to explain is that Naposki had Bill McLaughlin's license plate number written down on a notebook found in his car right after the murder.
"That was a clue he forgot to get rid of," Murphy said. "That license plate number cannot be explained."
And the defense doesn't offer an explanation for the license plate during trial.
"Our point has always been, 'Well really who cares?' You know, it's suspicious, it's curious. But what does it prove?" said Paulson.
And with no fingerprints or DNA, it still doesn't tie Naposki to the crime scene.
"I guarantee you that the reason there was no evidence of Mr. Naposki at the crime scene was because I wasn't there, period," he told Roberts.
Gary Pohnson tells the court, "This case is built on innuendo. This case is just wrong."
Naposki does not take the stand in his own defense, but Pohlson makes an impassioned plea.
"Please, as much as I've ever wanted anything in my life, I want you to find him not guilty because this man is not guilty. This is an innocent man," Pohlson told the court.
In his own closing argument, Murphy also appeals for justice for Bill McLaughlin's family and replays son Kevin's emotional 911 call.
"What that young man went through was a nightmare...and he went through that because of the greed of that man right there," Murphy told the court. "I'm gonna ask that you make sure there is justice for that moment."
"Yes... he made me a murderer. He drew the story. Murphy's law," Naposki said of the prosecutor. "They built a case on cards....it'll come down."
After four weeks of trial, the jury took just 7 hours to convict Eric Naposki of Bill McLaughlin's murder.
"They just made a mistake. And there's no other way to look at it," Naposki told Roberts. "I thought that you had to be convicted on evidence, not suspicion, not lies that you told the police, not Matt Murphy's closing statement.
"There was no plot...cause if there was a plot, then you would have found me, 15 years later, in Nanette Johnston's house," Naposki continued. "...if we accomplished our goal and no one got arrested why did I leave in the first place."
The only person who actually profited from Bill McLaughlin's death, he says, was Nanette. Naposki now suggests that she hired a hit man to kill the millionaire.
"Somebody's out there who killed Mr. McLaughlin. And he's not in jail," he said.
Naposki says there's an easy explanation for why he had Bill McLaughlin's license plate written down.
"The license plate was something? It wasn't," he explained. "That license plate number has nothing to do with the murder at all."
Instead, he says it had everything to do with Nanette. After she led him to believe Bill McLaughlin sexually violated her, he told Nanette to leave the house she shared with Bill.
"'Move out,'" Naposki said. "'Get away from him. It's obviously a dangerous situation.'"
He says Nanette told him -- don't worry -- McLaughlin was leaving. Only Naposki didn't believe her.
"I called a buddy of mine," he told Roberts. "I wanted her followed to see what she was doing."
Naposki says his friend told him McLaughlin's car was still at the house - and gave Naposki the plate number.
"See I was catching on to her. ...I knew something was fishy," he said. "I regret not walking, but I didn't walk."
"So you didn't have Bill's license plate so you could stalk him?" Roberts asked.
But sources tell "48 Hours" that investigators have looked into Naposki's story about his friend and the license plate - and it didn't happen. Still, Naposki says none of this would have mattered had he been able to prove his alibi by showing the jury his lost phone record.
"What this trial really came down to was missing information, information that I could no longer get," he said. "If I'm gonna do the rest of my life in jail, right, because I didn't have a phone bill, then...there's something really wrong with our system. ...I won't stop. I'm not gonna let it go. ...I don't' see any other way but going home, because I'm innocent...I will go home."
But for now, Eric Naposki is looking at the possibility of a life sentence.
"He made the decision to murder another human being," said prosecutor Matt Murphy.
"Our world is definitely a safer place now that he'll be locked away forever," said Kim McLaughlin.
For Bill McLaughlin's children, the pain of losing their father was compounded by the drowning death of their brother, Kevin, in a 1999 surfing accident.
"My dad couldn't be there for...Kevin's funeral. It would've been nice to have my dad for all of that. Eric took him away from us," Kim said. "I'd like to confront him face to face and tell him -- tell him how hard this has been."
For almost two decades, they've tried to put the horror of their father's murder behind them by honoring his life.
"He taught us to be grateful for what we had and really appreciate it because he worked hard for our good fortune and we've been blessed," Kim said. "Let's pass it on, pass it along. And to this day, we do, in his memory ... We know his spirit is with us."
But they say they won't really be able to move on until Nanette is forced to pay the death of their father.
Their hopes could soon be realized. Nanette Johnston will finally stand trial for murder in early November 2011. **
"We have half closure now and it was really satisfying and -- to have Nanette convicted as well, and put away for good -- will be a closing circle for us," said Kim.
Nanette Johnston sued the McLaughlin family soon after his murder for money she felt she was entitled to. They settled for $220,000.
Eric Naposki's lawyers have filed to overturn his conviction. They argue favorable evidence was lost because prosecutors waited so long to file charges.
**Nov. 4 case update:
In a court appearance on Nov. 4, prosecutor Matt Murphy presented new information that he says Eric Naposki shared with authorities after his conviction.
Naposki told prosecutors and police that Nanette Johnston had asked him to kill Bill McLaughlin. He says he refused, but Naposki did give her the name of someone who could hire a hitman. According to Murphy, Naposki also told authorities he was sure that it was his gun that was used in the murder.
Murphy introduced the information in court in an argument to oppose a delay in Nanette Johnston's trial slated to begin this month. The trial has been postponed until Dec. 29.
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