Kenneth Manzanares, 42, appears in U.S. District Court in Juneau for a change of plea hearing in this February 2020 photo. 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 File)

Kenneth Manzanares, 42, appears in U.S. District Court in Juneau for a change of plea hearing in this February 2020 photo. 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 File)

Man sentenced in wife’s beating death on Alaska cruise dies

He was found unresponsive in his cell Wednesday morning.

Kenneth Manzanares, recently sentenced for the murder of his wife aboard the cruise ship Emerald Princess in 2017, died while in custody at Lemon Creek Correctional Center, according to Alaska Department of Corrections.

Manzanares was observed to be unresponsive in his cell on Wednesday morning just before 7 a.m., said Alaska Department of Corrections public information officer Betsy Holley in a news release.

“Correctional officers and medical staff responded and immediately began performing life saving measures until emergency responders arrived on scene at 7:14 a.m,” Holley said in the release. “EMS pronounced Manzanares dead at 7:42 a.m.”

The DOC did not release a specific cause of death, but noted that the death was not considered suspicious and that it wasn’t COVID-related. Manzanares’ body will be examined by the Medical Examiner’s Office and the Alaska State Troopers, Holley said, as is standard procedure for all deaths in custody. Manzanares’ next of kin have been notified.

Manzanares, then living in Utah, was arrested on July 26, 2017 after the beating death of his wife aboard the cruise ship during a vacation and has been held at LCCC since then. Manzanares previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and had been sentenced to 30 years incarceration by a federal judge June 3 in district court on June 3.

“The crime was savage, bloody, and brutal. It was also personal; a man killing his wife” said district judge Timothy Burgess as he handed down the sentence. “Kristy Manzanares’ life was viciously ended by her husband.”

Manzanares’ lawyer cited a long history of mental conditions that led to the murder, including ADHD, bipolar disorder, and a history of traumatic brain injuries from contact sports, all of which could have affected his mental stability.

This is the seventh death in DOC custody this year, Holley said.

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

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