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Calif. AG won't review mansion death finding

September 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
California's attorney general has denied a pharmaceutical tycoon's request to review the circumstances surrounding his girlfriend's death.

The office of Attorney General Kamala Harris said it reviews cases for limited reasons, including allegations of gross misconduct by investigators, a clear conflict of interest or if a local law enforcement agency lacks resources or requests help.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department found that 32-year-old Rebecca Zahau committed suicide by binding her wrists and ankles and hanging herself nude from a balcony at her boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai's Coronado mansion.

The suicide came two days after Shacknai's 6-year old son suffered a fatal fall from a second floor while under Zahau's care.

Shacknai, 54, said he requested the review in order to put to rest questions by Zahau's family and others about her death. He said Thursday that he accepted Harris' decision.

Zahau's family is seeking an independent investigation. Their attorney, Anne Bremner, said Wednesday that a neighbor heard a woman scream at the home the night before the body was found and that numerous experts have challenged the suicide ruling.

Bremner is also calling attention to an autopsy report revelation that Shacknai's brother, Adam, found Zahau's body with a shirt stuffed in her mouth. The San Diego County coroner's office said it was unclear why the cloth was there but people can put material in their mouths before hanging themselves.

Jonah Shacknai is founder and chief executive of Medicis Pharmaceuticals Corp. and owner of the 27-room waterfront mansion. Zahau was his girlfriend of two years. Max was his son from a marriage that ended in divorce.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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