Kristy Manzanares. (Kristy Manzanares Facebook page | Courtesy photo)

Kristy Manzanares. (Kristy Manzanares Facebook page | Courtesy photo)

Defense allowed to keep prison visit records from prosecution in cruise ship murder case

Prosecution calls motion approved by Judge Burgess ‘unnecessary and overbroad’

Correction: An earlier version of this article quoted the prosecution’s motion as saying the defense’s motion was “overboard.” The text of the prosecution’s motion said it was “overbroad,” not “overboard.” The change has been made in the article and the headline.

What happens behind bars stays behind bars, in the case of accused cruise ship murderer Kenneth Manzanares’ legal team.

When professionals such as attorneys, paralegals, investigators, experts or doctors visit Manzanares at Lemon Creek Correctional Center, the prison is forbidden from giving information about those visits to the government, according to a court order dated July 9.

Manzanares, who is accused of murder in the July 25, 2017 death of his wife Kristy aboard the Emerald Princess in Juneau, is currently at LCCC and awaiting trial. That trial is scheduled for May 20, 2019, according to electronic court records.

In June, Manzanares’ attorneys — Federal Defender Rich Curtner, Assistant Federal Defender Jamie McGrady and Appointed Capital Counsel Mark Larrañaga — requested that the court prohibit the prosecution from accessing any of Manzanares’ professional visitation records, phone calls or correspondence at LCCC.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt said this is the first time in his 15 years of practicing law that he’s seen this kind of a motion. In his response, he said the defense’s motion was “unnecessary and overbroad,” because he can’t access records from professional visits at a correctional facility without a court order anyway.

The defense will still have to disclose its list of experts prior to a trial, Schmidt said, and the government would be able to get a court order to disclose details of their visits with the defendant. Schmidt said this seems to basically just be a precaution to keep as much private as possible.

[Attorneys in cruise ship murder case looking for ‘possible mental defenses’]

Schmidt also said the court order granting this motion, from U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess, was very specific that this court order applied only to professional visits. If family members or other members of the public correspond with Manzanares, that correspondence is open to the prosecution.

In its motion, which is signed by Curtner, McGrady and Larrañaga, the defense repeated what it has written earlier, that mental evaluations will be a key part of this case.

“Mr. Manzanares’ mental state at the time of the offense is likely a critical fact for either a resolution of a trial,” the defense wrote in the motion. “As such, the defense is ethically and legally obligated to investigate their client’s mental state.”

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• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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