Robert Manzanares, 42, appears in U.S. District Court in Juneau Wednesday for a change of plea hearing. A barrier put in place in the public courtroom hallway blocked Manzanares from public view, per the judge’s orders. Photography is not allowed in the courtroom. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Robert Manzanares, 42, appears in U.S. District Court in Juneau Wednesday for a change of plea hearing. A barrier put in place in the public courtroom hallway blocked Manzanares from public view, per the judge’s orders. Photography is not allowed in the courtroom. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Man pleads guilty to murdering wife on cruise ship

He beat her to death and attempted to throw her body over the balcony.

A man charged with murder for killing his wife aboard a cruise ship in 2017 pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Juneau Friday.

Kenneth Manzanares, 42, took a plea deal, admitting to a reduced charge of second-degree murder for killing Kristy Manzanares, 40. He was originally charged with first-degree murder.

Judge Timothy Burgess, District Judge for District of Alaska presided over the plea hearing, and accepted the deal.

“Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty?” Burgess asked Manzanares. “Yes,” Manzanares replied.

Manzanares was accused of beating Kristy Manzanares to death aboard the cruise ship Emerald Princess on July 25 and attempting to throw her body over the side of the ship, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt. The killing followed an argument between the couple where Kristy Manzanares made her intentions to divorce Kenneth Manzanares clear, and told him he needed to leave the ship at the next port of call, which was Juneau, Schmidt said.

Their adult children alerted the ship’s crew after hearing a scream and seeing Manzanares beating Kristy Manzanares from the next cabin’s balcony, Schmidt said. The couple had two adult children and were from Utah.

Robert Manzanares, 42, pleaded guilty to killing his wife aboard a cruise ship in 2017 in federal court Friday. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Robert Manzanares, 42, pleaded guilty to killing his wife aboard a cruise ship in 2017 in federal court Friday. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

The Alaska medical examiner determined she had been killed from blunt force trauma to the head and face, Schmidt said. Manzanares, after his arrest, admitted to striking to her twice, but says that he has no memory after that, Schmidt said.

Second-degree murder is different from first-degree in that it doesn’t involve premeditation.

Because the murder took place at sea, the case falls into federal district court rather than the Alaska state court.

Manzanares is currently in custody at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 28.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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