Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A Utah man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2017 killing of his wife on a cruise ship in Alaska.
U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder said in a statement Friday that Kenneth Manzanaras, 42, pleaded guilty in federal court in Anchorage to one count of second-degree murder. Prosecutors said Kenneth Manzanaras killed his wife, Kristy Manzanaras, on the Emerald Princess, while it was off Juneau, Alaska, in July 2017.
Millions of visitors come to Alaska each year, and the "brutal crime" was a "rare occasion where a crime is committed on a visitor," Schroder said. "Our hearts go out to the family and those close to Kristy Manzanaras."
Kenneth Manzanaras admitted he got into an argument with his wife in the cabin about his behavior on the evening of July 25, 2017, and she asked him for a divorce and told him to leave the ship at Juneau and return to Utah, court documents show.
He allegedly said "she would not stop laughing at me," a criminal complaint showed.
Kenneth Manzanaras told his unidentified minor child and 22-year-old daughter to leave the room as he and his wife went into an adjoining relatives' cabin, according to his plea. They heard Kristy Manzanaras scream and tried to open the room's adjoining door, but he told them "don't come in here." They went to a connected balcony and saw him straddling his wife on the floor and striking her head with closed fists.
The daughter went for help and the wife's two brothers and father arrived and saw the husband dragging her body toward the balcony, court documents show. Prosecutors said one of the brothers grabbed her ankles and pulled her back into the cabin.
Medics unsuccessfully tried to save her life. Blunt force trauma to the head and face killed her, officials said.
Kenneth Manzanaras was arrested the day after his wife's death and remains in federal custody.
in the plea, he admitted to hitting his wife twice, but said that he had no memory after that point.
Sentencing was scheduled for late May, according to online court records.
He could face a maximum sentence of life in prison and up to $250,000 fine, the Department of Justice said. Sentencing is based on seriousness of the crime and criminal history under the sentencing guidelines.