Max Shacknai Death Investigation Will Not Be Reopened, Despite Differing Opinions on Cause

See also: Max Shacknai Was Killed, According to Independent Experts
See also: Rebecca Zahau's Death Ruled Suicide; Max Shacknai's Death an Accident
See also: Jonah Shaknai's Son Pronounced Dead Just Days After Girlfriend's Death

Although independent investigators concluded Max Shacknai died from an assault, police in Coronado, California will not reopen the investigation into the 6-year-old's death.

Dina Shacknai released a statement calling the decision a "predetermined and politically expedient outcome," although the experts she hired concluded her son was likely a homicide victim.

Max, the son of Medicis Pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai, died at his father's Coronado, California mansion last year, just days after the body of 32-year-old Rebecca Zahau -- Jonah Shacknai's girlfriend -- was found naked, bound, and hanging from a balcony at the house.

Max was in Zahau's care when he died after falling down stairs in the home, according to the findings of the medical examiner in San Diego County.

Neither Dina Shacknai nor the experts she hired were buying the "accident" explanation.

"... [T]he manner of death is not [accurate]," board-certified pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek said. "It would be more accurate to certify that manner as a homicide, where homicide is defined as death at the hands of another."

Dr. Robert T. Bove Jr., an "expert in injury biomechanics," theorized that Max was assaulted, and either hit his back on the second-floor railing or on the landing in-between floors. Then, he either moved or was moved over the railing, as he sustained skull and back injuries.

Based on Max's center of gravity, Bove said it was really unlikely that Max fell over the railing on accident, given its height.

Dina Shacknai's presented this alternate explanation to police and the medical examiner, but both Coronado police and the San Diego County Sheriff have been pretty confident that they got it right.

"Were these deaths the result of criminal conduct? Was Max's death a homicide? The answer is no," San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said in September. "It was a tragic accident. Was Rebecca's death a homicide? Again the answer is no. It was a suicide ... These deaths were not the result of any criminal acts."

With the many, many questions that have been asked in this case over the last year, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department has been fairly open about the investigation. It has provided a ton of information about the deaths to the public, which can be found here.

And it appears police will be sticking with what they've found.

"In light of the evidence we provided, it is shocking that the Coronado Police Department has refused to reopen the case," Dina Shacknai says in a statement. "As a mother, I will leave no stone unturned and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to pursue justice and find the truth behind my son's death, however long that may take. We presented scientific evidence and legitimate science does not lie. It is more than disappointing that despite the depth and detail of the evidence we presented, the system has failed us and it has failed Max."

It was also recently announced that the Scottsdale-based Medicis Pharmaceutical was sold to a Canadian company for $2.6 billion.

More information about Max, from Dina Shacknai, can be found here.

James King contributed to this post.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley

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