Jimmy Snuka Trial Update – Judge rules no mental health treatment, does not toss case, next hearing scheduled

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


Jimmy Snuka photo credit Wade Keller (c) PWTorch

AUG. 2 UPDATE: Jimmy Snuka will not have to go through a mental health treatment after being found incompetent to stand trial in the 1983 death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino. (Report by Morning Call – MCall.com.)

Judge Kelly Banach denied the prosecutors’s last-ditch request to find a way for Snuka to possibly stand trial in Pennsylvania court. Therefore, the prosecutors asked that the charges be dropped, but Judge Banach denied that request.

Judge Banach said she was “uncomfortable” with making a final decision based on the snapshot of the four-day competency hearing in June.

A follow-up hearing has been scheduled for December. However, the prosecution has been given 30 days to submit any new findings related to the mental competency issue. If not, Judge Banach said she might dismiss the case at the hearing in December.

Snuka, who has since relocated to Florida, was not present at Tuesday’s hearing in Allentown, Pa. Snuka’s attorney, Robert Kirwan, said Snuka’s dementia has worsened to where he does not recognize his wife.

Another issue that came up at Tuesday’s hearing was Snuka being announced for the 2017 WrestleCon event just a few weeks after being found not mentally competent to stand trial. Kirwan said Snuka is not attending the event, and Snuka’s name is no longer listed on WrestleCon’s website.

Meanwhile, Snuka is one of 53 wrestlers suing WWE related to head trauma/ concussions, attempting to find relief from what Snuka’s family believes contributed to his mental condition.

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JUNE 20 UPDATE: Prosecutors in Jimmy Snuka’s trial are asking for Snuka to be committed to a 60-day mental health and competency treatment, reports the Morning Call.

The prosecution wants “to ascertain whether the defendant can be competent to stand trial” in the death of his 1983 girlfriend Nancy Argentino. This follows Judge Kelly Banach’s ruling on June 1 that Snuka is not mentally competent.

In the motion filed on Monday, District Attorney Charles Gallagher petitioned the court to have Snuka admitted to treatment for a true evaluation of his mental competency.

During the pre-trial proceedings, a doctor for the defense argued that Snuka was too mentally damaged to understand the charges he is faced with. A doctor for the prosecution argued that Snuka’s mental deterioration is within the normal range of individuals his age, 73.

Judge Banach sided with the defense’s argument, saying she does not believe Snuka is “faking” mental competency. “I don’t think he’s smart enough to fake it,” Banach said at the time.

A hearing to review the prosecution’s latest filing has not yet been scheduled, reports the Morning Call.

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JUNE 2 UPDATE: Wrestling author Irv Muchnick, who has been at the forefront of the Jimmy Snuka-Nancy Argentino cold case for decades, noted in a recap of Wednesday’s hearing that the court suddenly changed the date of the fourth mental competency hearing. This disallowed Nancy’s family from attending on short notice.

Mucknick reported: “’Unfortunately, justice suffers when it’s delayed,’” Judge Banach said from the bench at a hearing whose date had been swerved, without informing the Argentino family, so that Nancy’s sisters were unable to attend.”

The originally reported court date for the fourth mental competency hearing was June 21, but the hearing was bumped up to June 1, where Judge Banach made her decision on whether Snuka was competent to stand trial.

Muchnick noted Argentino’s family was already under a gag order not to talk about the case, which Judge Banach maintained going forward in her ruling on Wednesday.

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JUNE 1 UPDATE: Jimmy Snuka returned to Pennsylvania court on Wednesday for his fourth mental competency hearing in the case of the death of his 1983 girlfriend, Nancy Argentino.

The result was Judge Kelly Banach ruling that Snuka is not mentally competent to stand trial, reports the Morning Call. Therefore, there will not be a trial at present.

Judge Banach did not end the proceedings, though. The case will be put off for six months until the next hearing on December 2 to review whether Snuka’s condition has improved, or if the prosectors drop the charges.

In her ruling, Judge Banach suggested that there is enough evidence to go trial. “Unfortunately, justice suffers when it’s delayed,” she said. However, she sided with the defense’s witness, forensic psychologist Dr. Frank Dattilio, who said Snuka is a shell of a man, has dementia, and does not understand the charges he is facing.

The prosecution argued that Snuka is faking his mental condition to avoid trial. Judge Banach’s answer was: “I don’t believe he’s faking it. I don’t think he’s smart enough to fake it.”

Judge Banach also denied a motion from district attorney Charles Gallagher asking for Snuka to be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for 60 days.

The judge added that upon her review of the case and after talking to Snuka, she believes that he is “vacant” and “leadable,” making it difficult for attorneys to provide sound counsel and making Snuka unable to assist in his own defense.

There is the issue of Snuka continuing to take wrestling bookings, prompting the question of why he’s still appearing in front of wrestling crowds if he’s mentally incompetent to understand simple things like how to operate a car door, according to his wife Carole.

“He’s a man. I’m not going to emasculate him by telling him he can’t do it,” Carole said.  “Promoters will book him because his name draws, but that doesn’t mean he’s there.”

Going forward, Snuka is free on bail, and his family plans to move him down to Florida to live with his son after the Snukas lost their home because of financial problems. Judge Banach allowed them to move during the six-month stay period, and the prosecution did not object. (Full Report at MCall.com)

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