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Man Who Beat His Wife to Death on Cruise Ship After She Asked for Divorce Has Died in Prison

The Emerald Princess cruise ship.

The Emerald Princess cruise ship.

A man who beat his wife to death after she asked for a divorce has died in prison, say officials. Kenneth Manzanares, 43, who was serving a 30-year sentence for killing Kristy Manzanares, 39, was found unresponsive in his cell at 6:59 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the Alaska Department of Corrections.

Officials say they do not suspect foul play, but they otherwise did not hint at the cause and manner of the inmate’s death.

“Alaska DOC does not release cause of death due to confidentiality,” Public Information Officer Betsy Holley told Law&Crime in an email.
Authorities simply said that prison guards and medical staff at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center tried to save Manzanares’ life until emergency responders arrived at the scene at 7:14 a.m. Those responders declared him dead at 7:42 a.m., the DOC said.

From the press statement:

Manzanares has been in DOC custody since July 26, 2017. He was a sentenced federal inmate convicted of Second Degree Murder.

This death is the seventh in DOC custody this year. Next of kin have been notified. No foul play is suspected. This death is not COVID-19 related.

Manzanares’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment.

Violence defined the tail end of Manzanares’ life. He beat his wife Kristy Manzanares to death while on the Emerald Princess cruise ship, as the vessel was docked in the city of Juneau on July 25, 2017, according to the plea agreement. After his wife had asked for a divorce, Manzanares told their daughters to leave the room.

From the document:

A few minutes later, Minor #1 and their 22-year old daughter heard Kristy Manzanares scream. Minor #1 and the 22-year old daughter attempted to reenter cabin D726 using their room’s adjoining door when the defendant told them “don’t come in here.” Minor #1 and the 22-year old daughter then went to the connected balcony and observed the defendant straddling Kristy Manzanares, who was on the floor. The defendant was striking Kristy Manzanares in the head with closed fists.

Kenneth Manzanares ultimately pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Prosecutors wanted a life sentence. On June 4, 2021, Manzanares was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

“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 a statement at the time of the sentencing. “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.”

Defense lawyer Jamie McGrady had argued that mental illness, prescription medication, alcohol use, and brain damage from contact sports caused the outburst.

“What happened that night on the ship is what can only be described as a perfect storm— Kenny’s brain injury, combined with his undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder and a problematic combination of prescribed medication and alcohol resulted in an aberrant episode of violence,” she wrote in a filing.

Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.

[Screengrab via Inside Edition]

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