ST. GEORGE — A St. George man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife on a cruise to Alaska pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday to the charges.
Kenneth Manzanares, who is behind bars in Juneau, Alaska, appeared via teleconference, dabbing his eyes as his attorney entered the plea before a federal judge presiding from Anchorage, according to the Associated Press.
Manzanares was indicted by a grand jury last week in the death of his wife, Kristy Manzanares, a 39-year-old St. George real estate agent and mother of three daughters.
A hearing on whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the case is expected later this year.
The couple, who had been married for more than 20 years, were traveling aboard the Emerald Princess last month with a large group of family members, including the couple’s three daughters, on a weeklong cruise along the Alaskan panhandle.
On July 25, two days after the ship left Seattle, Washington, Kristy Manzanares was found dead in the couple’s cabin with a severe head wound as the cruise ship traveled between Ketchikan and Juneau, according to a criminal complaint by FBI Special Agent Michael L. Watson. Blood was reportedly spread throughout the room on multiple surfaces.
A family member saw Kenneth Manzanares with blood-stained hands and clothing and asked him what had happened to which Kenneth Manzanares allegedly replied, “She would not stop laughing at me,” according to the complaint.
The family member then saw Kenneth Manzanares grab his wife’s body and drag her toward a balcony in the cabin, the FBI report stated. The family member grabbed Kristy Manzanares’ ankles and pulled her back into the cabin.
People surrounding the couple’s cabin, including a couple whose room overlooked their balcony, reported loud screaming, a witness on the ship told St. George News, noting, “all of them said that they were in there just screaming at each other, like it was loud. Lots of people were out on their balconies watching and listening.”
“Later, when Manzanares was being processed during a search by the FBI for physical evidence, he spontaneously stated, ‘My life is over,’” Watson stated in the report.
Brian Schroder, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Alaska, said during a press conference last month that he couldn’t comment on whether there had been any other domestic violence disputes between the couple on the ship prior to the murder. He also said he couldn’t speak to whether Kenneth Manzanares was drunk or on drugs during the commission of the crime nor whether he had any history of domestic violence.
According to state court records, Kenneth Manzanares has no criminal history in Utah.
The couple, both northern Utah natives, made their way to St. George by way of Southern Utah University in Cedar City where Kristy Manzanares attended school. The couple moved from St. George to their Santa Clara home in August 2011.
The St. George community continues to rally around the family in a show of love and support for Kristy Manzanares and her three daughters.
A GoFundMe account established July 27 for the Manzanares children by longtime neighbor and family friend Dana Nicholls, had raised $38,505 by 552 people in 26 days. A second GoFundMe account, established by family friend Lesli Greenhalgh, had garnered $11,145 by 112 people.
A haircut and bake sale fundraiser organized by Kristy Manzanares’ niece, Kenzie Kuhlmann, was held Saturday, raising an additional $2,031 for the couple’s children.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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