Mother of 6-year-old boy killed in Coronado mansion wants case reopened, believes it was homicide

PARADISE VALLEY, AZ - Dina Shacknai believes her son, Max, was the victim of a homicide, not an accident as police have previously stated in the Coronado mansion deaths.

"I believe they will reopen it," Shacknai told ABC15 during an interview from her Paradise Valley home.

Shacknai presented the findings last month to the Coronado Police Department and asked them to reopen the case.

"We will review the information she provided," Lea Corbin of the Coronado Police Department told ABC15 via email.

Max died on July 16, 2011 after police said he accidentally fell down a second-floor railing on July 11 at a Coronado mansion.

At the time, Max was staying with his father, Jonah Shacknai, a wealthy Scottsdale businessman.

Jonah's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, was babysitting Max when the boy was injured.

Zahau later hanged herself at the mansion on July 13, 2011, police said.

Over the last nine months, Dr. Judy Melinek, a board certified forensic pathologist, and Dr. Robert T. Bove Jr., an expert in injury biomechanics, were asked to review Max's death report.

In the summary , the analysts state Max's death is a homicide and that he was assaulted.

Dr. Melinek believes that Zahau was directly involved in the assault and death of Max, but Dina did not say the same.

Dina told ABC15 that she wants police to determine who was responsible for Max's death.

The report states in part:

As a result of the assault, Maxfield Shacknai moved or was moved over the railing causing him to fall to the first floor level and as a result of his contact with the first floor he sustained his skull fracture.

"An assault scenario is the only scenario that Dr. Bove and Dr. Melinek, in collaborative consultation, could identify that accounts for the multiple planes of injuries on Max's body and the scene findings," said Angela Hallier, Dina Shacknai's attorney, in a news release.

The report also details how Max's "center-of-gravity" would not physically propel him over the railing as explained by Coronado investigators.

"Things just didn't add up to me," Dina said, "so I hired independent experts to review the findings. When I started this process all I knew is that I wanted the truth, wherever that led, like any parent would. Even though nothing will bring my only child Maxie back, I owe it to him, as his mother, to make sure the true facts of his death are known. It's important that his story be told, because this could happen to anyone's child."

Like Dina Shacknai, Zahau's family has also asked investigators to reopen her cause of death case.

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