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ALL CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST JIMMY SNUKA

By Mike Johnson on 2017-01-03 16:18:00

All charges against WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Snuka were officially dropped today during a hearing in Allentown, PA under Judge Kelly L. Banach, according to WFMZ TV in Pennsylvania.  Banach dropped the charges after ruling that Snuka's mental health will not improve to the point that he could intelligently defend himself against the charges.

Both prosecution and Snuka's defense attorney, Robert Kirwan had pushed for a dismissal last August.  Banach put that ruling off until today's hearing, waiting to see if Snuka's mental state improved or whether new evidence would be found that would cause her to rule Snuka was fit for trial.  Neither happened and during an appearance via Facetime during a hearing last month, Snuka stated he did not remember ever speaking previously with Judge Banach.

At the time of her death in 1983, Nancy Argentino had been on the road traveling with Snuka, who she was dating.  They were in town for a WWF TV taping at the Allentown Fairgrounds.

Snuka had on 5/10/83 at the taping and when he returned to his hotel room, stated that that he found Argentino gasping for air and oozing yellow fluid from her nose and mouth.  Argentino died on 5/11/83 with her autopsy stating it was due to traumatic brain injures.

The medical examiner's report at the time stated Argentino's injuries were consistent with being hit with a “stationary object."  Argentino also had a number of cuts and bruises which suggested domestic abuse. There had been an incident in New York State several weeks before where police were called due to a situation between Snuka and Argentino in a hotel. 

The forensic pathologist suggested that the case be invested as a homicide but no one was ever charged and the report was lost somewhere along the way.  How that happened and how the case went cold has never been explained and given today's turn of events, one wonders whether the Argentino family now has a legitimate claim for a lawsuit against the State of Pennsylvania.

Snuka, after the case remained cold for decades, was charged in 2015 with involuntary manslaughter and third-degree murder.  The "lost" autopsy report from the medical examiner at the time was discovered by The Allentown Morning Call as they covered the 30th anniversary of Argentino's death. 

That report, as well as Snuka's 2012 autobiography Superfly providing a different version of the circumstances leading to Argentino's death when compared to what Snuka told authorities in 1983, as well as two new witnesses who worked at the motel coming forward, all led to him being indicted.

In 1983, Snuka claimed there was horseplay that led to Argentino getting hurt and he wasn't aware of the seriousness of the situation until he called for medical help after working the WWF TV taping. 

In his 2012 autobiography Superfly, Snuka claimed that the two stopped for Argentino to go to bathroom on the side of a road when she slipped and hit her head on a rock.    He stated that he put her to bed, checked on her after wrestling for WWF, returned for another set of tapings and when he came back to the hotel after WWF had completed TV, realized the seriousness of the situation and called for an ambulance.

Judge Banach ruled in June 2016 that Snuka was mentally incompetent to stand trial, following Snuka taking the stand himself twice over the course of those mental competency hearings.   Snuka was questioned by Judge Banach during those proceedings about his health.  During the questioning, Snuka was not aware this was an Election year and could not name politicians or sports personalities, although he admitted he regularly watched the news.  He stated he did not know who would sit in the Jurors' box during a trial, responding it would be Judges and referred to Judge Banach as "hon" and "sister."   Banach noted at the time she did not believe Snuka was "smart enough" to be faking his condition.

During his testimony, Snuka was unable to remember the name of his mother when asked.   Snuka was also reportedly "confused" about his given name and age.  When asked about Argentino's death on the stand during his mental competency hearing, Snuka commented, "It was just an accident ma'am. I didn't do anything to hurt her."  His attorney claimed this past summer that Snuka's mental health had declined to the point that he no longer recognized his own wife, Carol.

During a hearing last month, it was stated that Snuka, 73, had been diagnosed to have terminal stomach cancer and was not expected to live past the next six months, based on a diagnosis from a hospice doctor.  During the hearing last month, Snuka's attorney noted that Snuka had been dealing with numerous infections and was finally hospitalized because of  "hysterial and delusions" due to his infections.  Snuka did not travel from Florida for that hearing and was not present today.

WWE announced they had suspended Snuka from his Legends deal when he was indicted on the charges.  He was also removed from his listing in the Hall of Fame section on the WWE website, but was still listed as a member of the Hall in this past year's Hall of Fame section of the Wrestlemania 33 program.  Snuka's deal will likely be quietly reinstated by the company.

One has to wonder whether the Argentino family has a case to pursue the city of Allentown and its local law enforcement over the long delay of the case, given that there was obvious evidence in their records that a homicide investigation should have been pursued, but, for whatever the reason, it never happened.

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