Utah man sentenced to 30 years in prison for Alaska cruise ship homicide

The side of a big cruise ship as it sits docked in Juneau.
Passengers wait aboard the Emerald Princess moored on the South Franklin Street Dock in Juneau on Wednesday, July 27, 2017. The FBI investigated an alleged murder after a Utah woman died the day before on the ship. (Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

A Utah man was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for killing his wife while on an Alaska cruise.

Kenneth Manzanares, 43, was also sentenced Thursday to five years of supervised release if he finishes serving out his federal prison term.

Manzanares, his 39-year-old wife Kristy, their three daughters and other relatives were on board the Emerald Princess as it cruised up through Southeast Alaska waters in July 2017.

During a plea agreement hearing in February 2020, Manzanares admitted he and his wife got into an argument in their cabin. Kristy said she wanted a divorce, and she also wanted Kenneth to get off the ship in Juneau and go home to Utah.

Prosecutors said two of their daughters were then told to leave the room during the argument, but they were prevented from reentering later when they heard Kristy scream. Through an adjoining room’s balcony, the daughters witnessed Kenneth assaulting and beating Kristy.

Kenneth Manzanares admitted during the plea agreement hearing he struck his wife with two closed fists.

Prosecutors said she died from blunt force trauma to her head and face.

Manzanares originally pled not guilty in U.S. District Court in Juneau to a first-degree murder charge. But during the February 2020 plea agreement hearing, he pled guilty to second-degree murder.

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Matt Miller is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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