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.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

Bill Thomas, a lifelong Haines resident and former state lawmaker, has filed as a candidate for the District 3 House seat that includes the northern half of Juneau on Wednesday. (Alaska State Legislature photo)
Former Haines lawmaker Bill Thomas challenging Rep. Andi Story for District 3 House seat

Challenger served in Legislature from 2005-13, been a lobbyist and commercial fisherman for decades.

The student band performs at Thunder Mountain High School. (Screenshot from student film “Digging a Hole in the School Budget”)
Thunder Mountain High School graduates win film festival award

Documentary by Jade Hicks, Hayden Loggy-Smith portrays human impacts of school consolidation plan.

The city of Hoonah, which is petitioning to incorporate as a borough that includes a large surrounding area that includes Glacier Bay and a few tiny communities. (Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development photo)
Hoonah’s petition to create Alaska’s 20th borough opposed by state boundary commission staff

Xunaa Borough would rank 8th in size, 18th in population; final decision, public vote still pending.

Ian Worden, interim CEO at Bartlett Regional Hospital, presents an update about the hospital’s financial situation during a board of directors meeting on Tuesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Bartlett officials seek to extend interim CEO’s contract to end of year amidst financial crisis planning

Ian Worden took over temporary leadership in October; 39 applicants so far for permanent job.

The LeConte state ferry departs Juneau on Tuesday afternoon, bound for Haines on a special round-trip following two cancelled sailings due to a mechanical problem. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
LeConte returns to service with special trip to Haines after weekend cancellation

State ferry will pick up half of nearly 60 stranded vehicles, others may have to wait until July.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, May 27, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Anchorage pullers arrived at Wrangell’s Petroglyph Beach on May 23 for a canoe-naming ceremony. One of the canoes they will paddle to Juneau was dedicated to Wrangell’s Marge Byrd, Kiks.adi matriarch Shaawat Shoogoo. The canoe’s name is Xíxch’ dexí (Frog Backbone). (Becca Clark / Wrangell Sentinel)
Canoes making 150-mile journey from Wrangell, other Southeast communities to Celebration

Paddlers expected to arrive in Juneau on June 4, one day before biennial Alaska Native gathering.

The Alaska State Capitol and Dimond Courthouse are seen on Thursday morning, Jan. 18. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Judicial Council recommends Alaskans keep all judges, including figure behind correspondence ruling

The Alaska Judicial Council has voted to recommend that state voters retain… Continue reading

Most Read