Kenneth Manzanares, the Utah man suspected of killing his wife aboard a cruise ship near Juneau last month, broke down sobbing during his arraignment in U.S. District Court Wednesday.
Manzanares was visibly distraught from the moment he stepped into the courtroom, shaking his head, sighing audibly and repeatedly wiping his eyes and nose before the hearing started. He appeared in court in Juneau with Assistant Federal Public Defender Jamie McGrady and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt, while U.S. District Court Judge Deborah M. Smith appeared via video conference from Anchorage.
No photography was allowed in the courtroom, and the U.S. Marshals partitioned off the hallway, blocking Manzanares’ arrival from view of the press. The FBI has not released his photograph.
Manzanares put his head down as Smith read his charge of first-degree murder, with McGrady reaching out to comfort him as he cried before entering a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
Schmidt noted he just received a large amount of discovery, adding that he expected another “large dump of information” in the near future. Part of that is evidence is several hundred interviews, McGrady added. The attorneys are likely to file a request to have the case declared complex and to waive speedy trial requirements.
Schmidt said the penalty for first-degree murder is death or life in prison and asked for a hearing to discuss whether the government will seek the death penalty. If it does, there probably will be a motion for additional counsel with experience in such cases.
Manzanares will next be in court on Sept. 22 for a hearing to discuss motion and evidence production deadlines, with another status hearing some time in October.
Manzanares allegedly killed his wife, Kristy, during an argument in their cabin on board the Emerald Princess on July 25.
The 39-year-old Utah man killed his wife aboard the ship and told an acquaintance who later walked into the couple’s blood-splattered room that he did it because she laughed at him, the FBI said in charging documents.
Manzanares reportedly was found with blood on his hands and clothes, and with blood spread throughout the cabin on the Princess Cruises ship, according to a criminal complaint by FBI Special Agent Michael L. Watson.
Kristy Manzanares, 39, reportedly had a severe head wound, but authorities have declined to release other details regarding her death. Manzanares allegedly grabbed his wife’s body and tried to drag her to the balcony, but the witness stopped him.
The ship was set to tour Tracy Arm but was diverted to Juneau because of the investigation, which the FBI led because the death occurred in U.S. waters. The ship docked downtown and passengers were kept on board for hours before it departed late that night for the town of Skagway.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 523-2246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.