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Crime & Courts

Utah man who fatally beat his wife on Alaska cruise dies in custody

This July 26, 2017 photo shows the Emerald Princess cruise ship docked in Juneau. A federal judge on June 3, 2021, in Juneau sentenced Kenneth Manzanares to 30 years in prison for the beating death of his wife, Kristy Manzanares, while aboard the ship. Kenneth Manzanares was then found dead in a Juneau detention facility Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)

JUNEAU — A Utah man who was sentenced to 30 years in prison last month in the beating death of his wife on an Alaska cruise has died, the Alaska Department of Corrections said.

Kenneth Manzanares was in the department’s custody, at a facility in Juneau, when he was found unresponsive in his cell Wednesday morning, the department said in a statement. Lifesaving measures were attempted but he was later pronounced dead, the department said.

Manzanares is the seventh person to die in the department’s custody this year, according to the department, which said all deaths are reviewed by the Alaska State Troopers and state medical examiner’s office. According to the Department of Corrections, he was 43.

Betsy Holley, a department spokesperson, by email Friday declined to provide other details about Manzanares’ death, saying information “related to an inmate’s medical condition is confidential,” but said no foul play was suspected.

An email seeking comment also was sent to Manzanares’ attorney Friday.

Manzanares pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder in the beating death of his wife, 39-year-old Kristy Manzanares of Santa Clara, Utah, on a 2017 Alaska cruise. He was sentenced last month in a crime the federal judge overseeing the case described as violent and brutal.

Manzanares’ attorneys, in a court filing, said he had brain abnormalities that a defense expert deemed consistent with injuries caused by playing contact sports. This, combined with what was at the time an undiagnosed bipolar disorder and “a problematic combination of prescribed medication and alcohol resulted in an aberrant episode of violence,” the filing states.

Prosecutors had disputed the defense’s medical claims.

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