Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, a 72-year-old former professional wrestling star, will be tried in the cold case death of his mistress in a Pennsylvania motel more than three decades ago.
Defense attorneys agreed on Wednesday to bypass a preliminary hearing in Lehigh County in exchange for grand jury transcripts and other evidence in the 1983 death of 23-year-old Nancy Argentino of New York, reported The Associated Press.
Snuka of Waterford Township, New Jersey, is charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. He will remain free pending trial in lieu of 10 percent of $100,000 bail.
Argentino was pronounced dead in May 1983 after authorities were called to a motel room she was sharing with Snuka near Allentown.
Defense attorney Robert Kirwan II on Wednesday called her death “simply an unfortunate accident … not murder.”
Snuka, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, was released on $100,000 bail in August
after being charged with third degree murder and manslaughter in connection with Argentino's death.
Snuka, who was recovering from stomach cancer surgery in New Jersey, surrendered to Lehigh County officials and was arraigned by District Judge Robert Halal before posting bail.
The Argentino cold case was reopened two years ago and a county grand jury later said it believed that Snuka repeatedly assaulted Argentino in a motel room and then left her in bed to die.
An autopsy report said Argentino died of traumatic brain injuries and had suffered 39 cuts and bruises on her head, ear, chin, arms, hands, back, buttocks, legs and feet.
"His assaultive acts and his failure to act to obtain medical attention resulted in her death," the grand jury said on July 17 in recommending charges against him.
Lehigh Valley District Attorney James B. Martin said Snuka constantly changed his story about what happened on the May 1983 date of Argentino's death. The most recent version came in his 2012 autobiography.
Snuka initially told police that he and Argentino were playing around and he shoved her head down. In his book, he said Argentino slipped and hit her head on a rock while the couple had parked on the side of a highway to go to the bathroom.
Snuka had an opportunity to testify in front of the grand jury after he was subpoenaed, but never took the stand, said Martin.
The grand jury heard from Lehigh County detective Gerald Procanyn, who investigated the case in 1983, along with reviewing testimony and statements from 20 witnesses.
Snuka said in his autobiography that Argentino's death ruined his life but claimed he did not harm her.
"Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true," Snuka said in his book. "This has been very hard on me and very hard on my family. To this day, I get nasty notes and threats. It hurts. I never hit Nancy or threatened her."
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