Former wrestling star Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka on Wednesday was ruled mentally incompetent to take the stand in his trial for the 1983 murder of his girlfriend.
Lehigh County, Pa., judge Kelly L. Banach made the ruling, The Morning Call reports, following four days of testimony that included questioning of Snuka.
Snuka, 73, was arrested and charged in September for third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of 23-year-old Nancy Argentino. Snuka was 40 years old and married at the time, and making an appearance at the local fairgrounds for the World Wrestling Federation, now known as the WWE. Snuka alleged that he returned to his hotel room and found Argentino “gasping for air and oozing yellow fluid from her mouth and nose,” as the Call reported.
Argentino died the next day at the hospital.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges, his attorneys arguing that his history of concussions and head injuries from wrestling rendered him unfit to take the stand.
From the Call:
Banach said she sided with defense expert Dr. Frank Dattilio, a forensic psychologist who found that Snuka suffers from dementia so severe that he's unaware that he's been charged with homicide. The judge said she was also concerned about Snuka's ability to assist his attorney in a case based on 30-year-old allegations.
The case will be stayed for six months at minimum, with Snuka ordered to return to court for review Dec. 2. According to the Call, that process could cycle indefinitely until charges are dropped or Snuka’s mental condition improves. Read the full report here.
The Call published a 4,500-word investigation into Argentino’s death in 2013, which the Lehigh County district attorney acknowledged was partially responsible for his decision to re-open the case.
Snuka joined the WWF in 1982 and remained with the promotion until 1985. He spent the next five years in smaller promotions and return to WWF in 1989, where he stayed until 1992. He was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1996.
Snuka currently lives in South Jersey, about 90 miles from Allentown. His wife announced in August that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.