Cruise ship homicide defendant waives right to a speedy trial

The defendant in a federal case of a Utah man charged with killing his wife aboard a cruise ship has waived his right to speedy trial in court Monday. This pushes a potential trial in U.S. District Court back months.

The United States District Court is located on the ninth floor of the federal building in Juneau, Alaska. Robert Boochever United States Courthouse is the federal courthouse in Juneau. Taken Aug. 24, 2017. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

The United States District Court is located on the ninth floor of the federal building in Juneau. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

Kenneth Ray Manzanares is charged with first-degree murder of his wife, Kristy Manzanares, during a Southeast Alaska cruise. He pleaded not guilty in August.

Manzanares’ public defender Jamie McGrady proposed the motion to declare the case complex, citing the potential for a death penalty, the geographic challenges with witnesses and the anticipation of several hundred interviews. The motion was unopposed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt said his office would need a minimum of 90 days before determining a trial length. Both attorneys estimated it would take several weeks.

Schmidt also said his office would seek a 45-day extension with the Department of Justice on whether to pursue the death penalty.

U.S. District Chief Judge Timothy Burgess set a new pre-trial hearing for April 23.

Alaska does not have the death penalty, but because the death occurred in territorial waters and is being tried in federal court, capital punishment is a possibility.

It’s also the first day of jury selection in Jim Wayne Thornhill’s child pornography case in the U.S. District Court.

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