ST. GEORGE — Federal prosecutors will not seek the death penalty in the case of a St. George man accused of killing his wife during an Alaskan cruise in July.
In a court filing Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced its decision not to pursue the death penalty against 40-year-old Kenneth Manzanares, who has been charged in U.S. District Court with murder in the death of his wife, 39-year-old Kristy Manzanares, a 39-year-old mother and St. George real estate agent.
He pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge.
The couple, who had been married for more than 20 years, were traveling aboard the Emerald Princess in July with a large group of family members, including the couple’s three daughters, on a weeklong cruise along the Alaskan panhandle.
Two days after the ship left Seattle, Kristy Manzanares was found dead in the couple’s cabin with a severe head wound, according to a criminal complaint by FBI Special Agent Michael L. Watson. Blood was reportedly spread throughout the room on multiple surfaces.
A family member saw Kenneth Manzanares with blood-stained hands and clothing and asked him what had happened, to which the complaint states Kenneth Manzanares allegedly replied, “She would not stop laughing at me.”
People surrounding the couple’s cabin, including a couple whose room overlooked their balcony, reported loud screaming, a witness on the ship told St. George News.
A jury trial is set to begin April 23 before Judge Timothy M. Burgess.
Kenneth Manzanares’ defense counsel filed an unopposed motion in October to declare the case complex and unusual, which will allow the trial to be scheduled outside the 70-day requirement pursuant to the Speedy Trial Act.
In another court filing earlier this month, attorneys said there were outstanding discovery issues in the case as the defense counsel was still awaiting a second batch of discovery including eyewitness statements, medical examiner reports and toxicology reports.
“The discovery is voluminous and currently going through the redaction process and will be available for production when completed,” the filing states.
A status conference in the case is scheduled for next week.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.