Kenneth Manzanares previously pleaded not guilty to the 2017 murder

By Robyn Merrett
February 07, 2020 08:51 PM
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A Utah man has pleaded guilty to the heinous 2017 murder of his wife.

On Friday, Kenneth Manzanares pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the second degree, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Alaska revealed in a press release.

The news comes after Kenneth entered a plea agreement — filed in federal court on Monday — which says he beat Kristy to death.

According to his admissions in the plea, the harrowing incident unfolded as Kenneth and Kristy were aboard the Emerald Princess on an Alaskan cruise on July 25, 2017.

That evening, the couple got into an argument after Kristy told her husband she wanted a divorce, Kenneth said in the plea, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office release.

Kenneth said in the plea that Kristy also told him to leave the cruise ship and travel back home to Utah.

As the argument intensified, Kenneth said in the plea that he asked a minor child and the couple’s daughter to leave the room. Kenneth then hit Kristy with a closed fit. He then struck her again, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office release.

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The couple’s daughter heard Kristy’s screams and attempted to re-enter the room, but Kenneth told her not to. She then went to the balcony of the neighboring room and saw Kenneth standing over Kristy, beating her repeatedly.

Soon after, Kristy’s brothers arrived and saw Kenneth pulling her towards the balcony. They then brought Kristy back into the room. Emergency responders later arrived and attempted to revive Kristy, but it was too late. She was pronounced dead.

Kristy and Kenneth Manzanares
| Credit: Facebook

Kristy’s cause of death was revealed to be blunt force trauma to her head and face. Kenneth was first arrested on July 26, 2017.

According to the appeal, Kenneth has waived the right to appeal his conviction. However, he reserved the right to appeal the “reasonableness” of an eventful sentence.

Kenneth faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or both, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in the release.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess announced Kenneth’s sentencing will take place in late May, ABC News and the Associated Press reported.

Kenneth’s guilty plea comes after he pleaded not guilty in August 2017.

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Of the brutal crime scene, federal court documents obtained by PEOPLE state, “Blood was spread throughout the room on multiple surfaces,” with Kenneth also covered in blood.”

“He had been acting terrible all night,” the source claimed, adding that at some point that evening, Kristy asked for a divorce. At that point, Kenneth allegedly “snapped” and killed her, a source told PEOPLE.

She and Kenneth, high school sweethearts, had been celebrating their wedding anniversary with their daughters and extended family on a week-long Princess Cruises voyage from Seattle to Alaska.

Kristy’s cousin Kasey Hunt told PEOPLE that she “had a glow to her, and filled a room with life,” adding, “She was so damn nice to everyone, she was amazing.”