Crime & Courts

Man accused of killing wife on cruise ship off Alaska pleads not guilty

A Utah man charged with killing his wife on a cruise ship off Southeast Alaska last month pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Kenneth Manzanares, 39, was arraigned in federal court in Juneau on one count of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Kristy, on July 25.

Judge Deborah Smith oversaw the proceedings from an Anchorage courtroom. Manzanares appeared via live video, wearing a yellow prison uniform and sitting next to his attorney, federal public defender Jamie McGrady.

Smith asked Manzanares a series of questions about his rights, to which he responded yes. He held his head down during most of the proceedings, occasionally grabbing tissues to wipe tears from his eyes.

[FBI: Cruise ship passenger killed wife because 'she would not stop laughing at me']

Kristy Manzanares, 39, was found dead on the Princess Cruises ship, Emerald Princess, on the night of July 25. According to the complaint filed by the FBI, witnesses found Kenneth Manzanares in the cabin with blood covering his hands and clothing.

When a witness asked Manzanares what happened, he told them "she would not stop laughing at me," according to the complaint.


Manzanares was taken into custody by ship security personnel and arrested by federal authorities after the ship docked in Juneau.

Because the death happened in waters beyond state jurisdiction, just north of the Canadian border, the case was put in federal hands, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutor Jack Schmidt, appearing Wednesday in Juneau, noted the maximum penalty for the charge is life in prison or the death penalty.

He asked the judge for 60 days to determine whether the government would elect to seek the death penalty. She granted his request.

Suzanna Caldwell

Suzanna Caldwell is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in 2017.