Despite New Expert Reports Brought Forth by Boy’s Mother, Coronado Police Department Will Not Reopen Investigation into Max Shacknai’s Death

Dina Shacknai Vows to Find Justice for her Son

Scottsdale, Ariz. (September 10, 2012) – The Coronado Police Department (COPD) has refused to reopen the investigation into the death of six-year-old Maxfield Shacknai who died tragically on July 16, 2011 after allegedly falling over a second-story stairway railing inside his father Jonah Shacknai’s Coronado mansion. The decision comes after the boy’s mother, Dina Shacknai, presented the COPD with reports from independent experts refuting the department’s accidental death ruling.

“In light of the evidence we provided, it is shocking that the Coronado Police Department has refused to reopen the case,” said Dina Shacknai. “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. I just hope we can make a meaningful difference in many other children’s lives through our experience and through the recent creation of Maxie’s H.O.U.S.E.”

Maxie’s H.O.U.S.E. ( is a nonprofit organization with the mission of upholding and promoting the physical and emotional safety of children in blended families living in more than one home.

In the quest to find the truth about what happened to her son, Dina Shacknai privately retained two independent experts to conduct their own investigations, Dr. Judy Melinek, a Board Certified Forensic Pathologist and Dr. Robert T. Bove Jr., a leading expert in injury biomechanics with the engineering and scientific consulting firm, Exponent.

“Drs. Bove and Melinek are deeply disturbed and frustrated by the COPD’s refusal to reopen the case, and the failure to reexamine the biomechanical aspects of the incident and the scene findings,” said Angela Hallier, Managing Partner of Hallier & Lawrence PLC. “After a nine-month investigation, both experts agree that it is clear the accident scenario put forth by the COPD is inaccurate and that an assault scenario is the only scenario consistent with the injuries and science.”

According to Dr. Melinek’s report, “It would be more accurate to certify Max’s death as a homicide, where homicide is defined as death at the hands of another.”

Dr. Bove’s report states, “The kinematics associated with the [assault] scenario put forth by Dr. Melinek…provide biomechanically accurate mechanisms for all of Max’s injuries, and are consistent with the physical evidence and geometry of the incident scene.”

“If the COPD believes an accident occurred in a different manner, they should tell us what that is because the one they have provided is inconsistent with the scene and with Max’s injuries,” said Hallier. “The decision made by the Coronado Police Department to keep the investigation into the death of Max Shacknai closed is outrageous. We have learned that the evidence we provided was never presented to, or reviewed by, COPD’s original biomechanical expert Dr. Mark Gomez.”

Additionally, Shacknai said, “It was disclosed by Commander Lawton of the COPD, that the diagram presented at the multi-agency press conference led by Sheriff William Gore on September 2, 2011, illustrating an inaccurate scaling of Max’s frame to that of the staircase railing was not prepared by Dr. Gomez, but by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.”

“I feel as if science was basically manipulated and distorted to fit a predetermined and politically expedient outcome. I do not intend to stop my fight for justice,” Shacknai continued.

Dina Shacknai has formally expressed her disappointment and dismay with the COPD’s decision to keep the case closed in a letter to the Chief of the Coronado Police Department, Louis Scanlon. Media interested in receiving a copy of this communication should contact the Martz Agency.

The public is invited to go to to find out more information regarding Max’s case, to participate in an online petition to reopen the case and to find out who to contact in Coronado and San Diego County to help justice be served.