A Lehigh County, Pa. judge has dismissed homicide charges against former pro wrestler Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, who had been accused of murdering his girlfriend Nancy Argentino 34 years ago.
Judge Kelly L. Banach ruled in a one-sentence decree that Snuka is not competent to stand trial, saying “it would be unjust to resume the prosecution.” Experts clashed on Snuka’s competence, with doctors called by the defense indicating that Snuka is in hospice care and has only six months to live, but psychiatrists called by the prosecution contending that Snuka was faking dementia for the judge and the cameras.
As noted in June 2016, Snuka was arrested in September 2015 after an Allentown Morning Call investigation into Argentino’s death induced the Lehigh County district attorney’s office to reopen the case. Argentino died in 1983 after Snuka made an appearance at the Allentown (Pa.) Fairgrounds for the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE). At the time, Snuka said he returned to his hotel room to find Argentino suffering from more than three dozen wounds caused, an autopsy determined, by blunt trauma from a stationary object. The Morning Call uncovered documents in 2013, during a report on the 30th anniversary of the death, that indicated Argentino’s death should have been investigated as a homicide.
In the initial phases of the trial, Snuka pleaded not guilty to the charges of third-degree and involuntary manslaughter, and his attorney contended that years of concussions and head trauma in the ring have left him unfit for trial. During a competency hearing, Snuka, 73, said he was in his 80s. He did not know the correct year, could not identify presidential candidates, or remember his mother’s name. According to his wife, Snuka believed that when he was arrested, he thought he was headed to an appearance for wrestling fans.
“I don’t believe he’s faking it,” Banach said in June. “No offense, but I don’t think he’s smart enough to fake it.”
Lehigh County Chief Deputy District Attorney Charles Gallagher’s office released a statement hinting at a possible appeal: “We are considering our options and will decide at the appropriate time what actions we will take.”
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.