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By Mike Johnson on 2015-09-01 19:01:39

WWE Hall of Famer James "Jimmy" Snuka was released on $100,000 bail this afternoon after being arrested on charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the May 1983 death of his then-girlfriend Nancy Argentino in Allentown, PA.


Snuka surrendered his passport upon posting bail as authorities do not believe he will be a flight risk.

During a press conference, Lehigh Valley District Attorney James B. Martin noted that Snuka turned himself in to authorities in Pennsylvania this morning. He was not arrested at his home in New Jersey, as was initially reported by several sources.

According to Martin during the press conference, the decision to indict Snuka was made by the Grand Jury for several reasons, one of which was the changing statements Snuka made about what happened to Nancy Argentino to authorities in the 1980s as well as his account in his autobiography, which was published several years back. Snuka initially told those who responded to the 911 call that he had struck Argentino once.  He later told police that he and Argentino were wrestling and playing around and he shoved her head down. In his book, he cited that 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. The changes in story were a major part of the decision to move forward with a grand jury investigation.

Snuka's arrests in the past for assaults against Argentino (in New York, which he later plead down to lesser charges) as well as against his ex-wife was also taken into consideration, as was Argentino's autopsy report from 1983s. The medical examiner who conducted Argentino's autopsy also testified. The current Lehigh Valley Coroner concurred with the initial medical examiner that Argentino's death was a homicide.

The Grand Jury reviewed over 30 pieces of material in relation to the case and several new witnesses who had never spoken about the case came forward.

All of those factors led the grand jury to indict Snuka this past July. The Judge and Martin later approved the charges brought today.

Martin noted they did not pursue first-degree murder charges as he did not believe they could meet the burden of proof needed to bring a conviction against Snuka. First-degree murder is, in most cases, considered willful and premediated. Third-degree murder is considered a murder that was intentional but did not involve prior intent. It's considered murder under unique circumstances that might have led to the perpetrator being emotionally or mentally disturbed during the act.

Martin noted that bail was set in the case so that Snuka could be treated for a life-threatening illness without burdening taxpayers. Snuka is currently recovering from surgery related to stomach cancer. That illness is also why Snuka is not being considered a flight risk by authorities.

Martin noted that Snuka was subpoenaed and present for the grand jury proceedings but never took the stand in his own defense, refusing to testify.

Martin thanked the Argentino family for their patience in regard to the case.  He noted that he was contacted by the family in 2013, which led to him ordering an investigation into the long cold case. 

Snuka has a preliminary hearing on 9/21 at 9:30 AM before presiding Judge Robert C. Halal.

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