Utah man pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder in Alaska cruise ship death

The Emerald Princess is moored on July 27, 2017, at the South Franklin Street Dock in Juneau. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

A Utah man arrested for the death of his wife on a Southeast Alaska cruise ship could spend the rest of his life in federal prison.

Kenneth Manzanares, 42, pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder for the July 2017 death of Kristy Manzanares, 39.

During a hearing in U.S. District Court in Juneau, Manzanares said it was true that he and his wife got into an argument in their room aboard the Emerald Princess cruise ship outside of Ketchikan. She wanted a divorce, and she asked him to get off the ship in Juneau. He also said it was true that he struck his wife with closed fists after their two children left the room. She died from blunt force trauma.

Manzanares originally pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the case, but he changed his plea to the lesser charge. His change of plea averts a trial in the case.

Sentencing is scheduled to start May 28.