ALLENTOWN, Pa., Jan. 4 (UPI) — The murder case against legendary former wrestler Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was dismissed Tuesday because he is not competent to stand trial.
Lehigh County Judge Kelly Banach dismissed the case against Snuka in connection with the 30-year-old death of his girlfriend because he has terminal cancer and dementia, the latter of which has prevented him from understanding that he is charged with murder.
“It’s a very disappointing day for victims of domestic violence,” Irvan Muchnick, an author who has spent more than 30 years investigating the case, told CBS Philadelphia. “Justice delayed is justice denied and unfortunately the family of Nancy Argentino is not getting the closure that they deserve.”
Snuka was charged in 2015 with third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the 1983 death of Nancy Argentino, his girlfriend at the time. Snuka said the death was due to a fall, but the district attorney alleges the death was due to domestic violence.
Snuka was investigated at the time as the only person of interest in the death when it happened, first telling police he’d shoved her on the day she died and she fell, hitting her head. He later changed the story to say he was misunderstood and she’d actually slipped and hit her head when they were getting out a car.
Argentino’s autopsy, however, noted dozens of cuts and bruises on her body, and the head injury — and the report listed her death as a homicide.
Robert Kirwan, Snuka’s attorney, said the case should have been tried in 1983, when Argentino died, but some reason was not and, in that time, both Kirwan and Muchnick said evidence in the case had gone stale.
The case was picked back up in 2014 and taken to a grand jury, which indicted Snuka in connection to the death. This summer, Kirwan made the case that, in addition to Snuka having no understanding that he’d been charged with murder and would stand trial, the wrestler had terminal cancer and only months to live.
Prosecutors made the case Snuka showed normal signs of brain again on medical exams, despite decades of sustaining hits in the wrestling ring. His wife also testified about dealing with Snuka’s bouts of psychosis, including attempts to leave the house because he thought he was late for a match.
While Kirwan said he would have pushed for the case to be dismissed because of how long ago Argentino died, he suggested after Tuesday’s dismissal that the case was about trying to bag a celebrity with an old case.
“It became about ‘let’s see if we can dig up an old case and make it fly,” Kirwan said, “and that’s the unfairness about what happened to Jimmy.”
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