'She Would Not Stop Laughing at Me': Utah Man Pleads Guilty to Murdering Wife Aboard Cruise Ship Off Alaskan Coast

Emerald Princess
A file photo shows a Princess Cruises ship, the Emerald Princess, on June 03, 2016 in Bergen, Norway. James D. Morgan/Getty

A Utah man pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of murder in the second degree for killing his wife in 2017 aboard the Emerald Princess cruise ship in waters outside Southeast Alaska.

Kenneth Ray Manzanares, 42, was arrested in July 2017 after reports of a murder had been phoned in by corporate security to the FBI. He was formally charged the following month with murder in the first degree before being allowed to plead to the lesser charge, which carries with it a potential penalty of life imprisonment.

A lawyer for Manzanares did not return a request for comment. Neither did a representative for Princess Cruises, which charters the Emerald Princess.

Peter Brust, the security director for the corporate owner of the Emerald Princess, told the FBI that on July 25, security personnel were called to respond to an incident in cabin D726, which was registered to Manzanares and his wife Kristy.

Before they arrived, other witnesses reported entering the room and encountering Manzanares, who had blood on his hands and clothing. They also found Kristy lying on the floor in a pool of blood. When asked about what had happened, one of the witnesses said that Manzanares replied: "She would not stop laughing at me."

One of these witnesses said that Manzanares attempted to drag his wife's body towards the balcony of their cabin, turning into a small scuffle when the witness grabbed her ankles and pulled Kristy back into the cabin.

After security arrived, they placed Manzanares into handcuffs and secured him to the adjacent cabin. Kristy was assessed by medical personnel, who discovered a "severe" head wound. Blood was also seen on "multiple surfaces" throughout the room.

During processing for evidence by the FBI, Manzanares is said to have spontaneously uttered: "My life is over."

Manzanares had been traveling on the cruise ship with his wife and two children-- one a 22-year-old daughter and the other a minor. At around 8:50 p.m., the night of her murder, Kristy and her husband had been arguing about his behavior that evening, according to the plea agreement. Kristy told him that she wanted a divorce, ordering him to debark at Juneau, the ship's next port of call.

Manzanares then instructed both children to go into the adjoining room, which was occupied by relatives. "A few minutes later," the plea recounts, both children heard their mother scream from the next cabin. Manzanares told them: "Don't come in here."

Accessing a balcony connecting the two cabins, the children witnessed their father punching their mother, who was lying on the floor, repeatedly.

"The vast majority have a safe experience that provides a lifetime of memories," Bryan Schroder, the U.S. attorney for the District of Alaska, said in a press release. "However, on those rare occasions where a crime is committed on a visitor, especially a brutal crime like the murder of Kristy Manzanares, rest assured the Alaskan law enforcement community will act to bring the perpetrator to justice. Our hearts go out to the family and those close to Kristy Manzanares."