Cruise ship murder trial pushed back to November 2018

Complexity of case, amount of discovery given as reasons for delay

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)

The trial date for the Utah man accused of killing his wife on a cruise ship near Juneau this summer has been moved back due to the complexity of the case.


The original trial date for Kenneth Manzanares, accused of first-degree murder of his wife Kristy Manzanares, was April 23, 2018. Judge Timothy Burgess ruled Wednesday that the trial is now set to begin Nov. 5, 2018.

Both attorneys — Assistant Federal Public Defender Jamie McGrady and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt — requested the change in date due to the large amount of discovery of the case. There are 72 audio files, eight video files, 541 photographs and nearly 2,000 pages of notes provided so far in the case, according to the case scheduling order. Potential witnesses in the case are located all over the country and in some cases, other countries.

McGrady estimated that the trial will take about four weeks. Burgess mentioned that the trial is likely to take a few days off during the week of Thanksgiving. Manzanares pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in August.

As stated in a court document this past Friday, the U.S. attorney’s office will not seek the death penalty for Manzanares. Alaska does not have the death penalty, but the death occurred while the Emerald Princess was in U.S. waters, making it a federal case. Capital punishment is legal in federal cases. The ship was approximately seven miles away from Forrester Island, which was the closest land.

In the probable cause affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Michael L. Watson, security and medical personnel responded to reports of a conflict in cabin D726 at 9:03 p.m. July 25. When they arrived, they found Kristy Manzanares with a severe head wound and blood on multiple surfaces in the room. Kenneth was there as well, with blood on his hands and clothing.

Kristy, 39, was pronounced dead at 9:20 p.m., and security personnel put Kenneth in handcuffs and secured him in the adjoining cabin. One witness, referred to as D.H. in the affidavit, said he arrived in the room to find Manzanares on the floor covered in blood. The witness asked what happened, to which Manzanares replied, “She would not stop laughing at me.”

D.H. also said he witnessed Manzanares grab his wife’s body and drag her toward the balcony in the cabin. D.H. then grabbed Kristy’s ankles and pulled her back. Later, when Manzanares was being taken into custody, he blurted out, “My life is over.”

During the brief status update Wednesday at the U.S. District Court in Juneau, Manzanares did not speak. He wiped his eyes at the beginning of the hearing but showed minimal signs of emotion after that.


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