ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Feb. 8, 2020 (Gephardt Daily/UPI) — A Utah man expected to take a plea deal in the 2017 murder of his wife did so on Friday.
Kenneth Manzanares, 42, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, reduced from first-degree murder, in the bludgeoning death of Kristy Manzanares aboard the cruise ship Emerald Princess in the U.S. Territorial Waters outside Southeast Alaska.
U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder released a statement on the case:
“Every year, millions of visitors come to Alaska to marvel at the stunning scenery of the Great Land,” he said. “The vast majority have a safe experience that provides a lifetime of memories. However, on those rare occasions where a crime is committed on a visitor, especially a brutal crime like the murder of Kristy Manzanares, rest assured the Alaskan law enforcement community will act to bring the perpetrator to justice. Our hearts go out to the family and those close to Kristy Manzanares.”
Jeffery Peterson, the Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Anchorage Field Office, also shared thoughts:
“We at the FBI continue to keep the family and friends of Kristy Manzanares in our thoughts,” he said. “The full resources of the FBI were apparent in this investigation, led by FBI Anchorage Special Agents in the Juneau Resident Agency and supported by our partners, all of whom worked fiercely to ensure justice on behalf of the victim of this heinous crime.”
The July 25 murder occurred after the victim stated she wanted a divorce from Manzanares, her high school sweetheart. The Manzanareses, one or more of their three daughters, and extended family were all aboard the cruise, court documents say.
Kenneth and Kristy Manzanares were inside their cabin, along with a minor child and their daughter.
According to admissions made in connection with the plea, Kenneth and Kristy Manzanares became involved in a verbal argument about Kenneth’s behavior that evening, and Kristy stated she wanted a divorce, adding she wanted her husband to disembark the vessel at Juneau and travel back home to Utah.
Kenneth Manzanares told the minor child and their daughter to leave the room, and the two went to the adjoining cabin of a relative. Minutes later, they heard Kristy Manzanares scream, and Kenneth telling them “don’t come in here.”
They both went to the connected balcony and observed Kenneth Manzanares straddling Kristy Manzanares on the floor, and striking her in the head with closed fists.
Kristy Manzanares’ two brothers and father arrived on scene and saw Kenneth Manzanares grab Kristy’s body and drag her toward the balcony.
One of Kristy’s brothers then grabbed her ankles and pulled her back into the cabin. Soon after, at approximately 9:03 p.m., ship security and medical personnel arrived and attempted to perform life-saving measures on Kristy Manzanares, but were unsuccessful.
It was determined that Kristy Manzanares was killed by blunt force trauma to her head and face.
Kenneth Manzanares was arrested on July 26, 2017, and has remained in federal custody.
Manzanares faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or both, for his crime.