This July 26, 2017 file photo shows the Emerald Princess cruise ship docked in Juneau, Alaska. Kenneth Manzanares, charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Kristy while aboard the ship on a cruise to Alaska, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Juneau Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Kristy Manzanares was found dead in a cabin last month on the ship while it was in U.S. waters off Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)

This July 26, 2017 file photo shows the Emerald Princess cruise ship docked in Juneau, Alaska. Kenneth Manzanares, charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Kristy while aboard the ship on a cruise to Alaska, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Juneau Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Kristy Manzanares was found dead in a cabin last month on the ship while it was in U.S. waters off Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)

Man sentenced to 30 years for cruise ship murder

The brutality of the crime was cited as reason for the stiff sentence.

A Utah man was sentenced in federal court today to three decades in prison with five more years of supervised released for the beating death of his wife aboard a cruise ship in Alaska in 2017.

Kenneth Manzanares, 43, was sentenced Thursday morning in United States District Court after pleading guilty last year to second-degree murder.

“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 has been incarcerated in Juneau since the event, which occurred during a family cruise on the Emerald Princess in late July 2017.

[Cruise-curbing initiatives won’t be on the ballot]

“The Manzanares daughters no longer have a mother,” Burgess said. “The profound impact of her violent death at his hands will have a profound impact that will echo through the family for all time.”

Public defender Jamie McGrady attempted to speak for leniency in the sentencing by citing a number of mental conditions Manazanares was experiencing at the time, leading to a “perfect storm.” Manzanares, according to the defense, is a man of “low IQ” and was also under the influence of a number of medications to treat ADHD and bipolar disorder, as well as a brain injury. Manzanares had also been drinking at the time of the murder. A history of domestic issues, including broken appliances, holes punched in walls and forcible restraint of his wife by Manzanares was also cited by Burgess. Competing evidence of Manzanares’ cognitive function was one of the reasons for the debate on the severity of the sentence, Burgess said.

“The offense is one of the most serious as it involved the taking of a life,” Burgess said. “He did not stop even though his children attempted to open the door and pleaded with him to stop.”

The FBI released a statement about the sentencing.

“No excuse can justify the savagery committed by this man, who will now spend the next three decades behind bars,” said Robert Britt, special agent in charge of the FBI Anchorage Field Office, in the statement. “The FBI worked tirelessly, with the support of our partners, to seek justice for Kristy – a beloved mother, daughter, sister, and friend. While justice has now been served, the lasting impact and trauma this man inflicted on Kristy’s family can never be erased. Our thoughts are with Kristy’s family and her home community.”

This all resulted in an upward departure, Burgess said, or a sentencing more severe than guidelines otherwise recommend. The defense applied to have Manzanares incarcerated in Tucson, Arizona, or another Lower 48 location, Burgess said.

Manzanares expressed remorse for the crime in court on Wednesday.

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

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