Lawyer who ‘almost got away with the perfect crime’ convicted of throwing his wife overboard on luxury cruise

James CrumpMon, September 21, 2020, 4:46 PM EDT

A former California lawyer has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, after he was convicted of throwing his ex-wife’s body off a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

Lonnie Loren Kocontes, of Safety Harbor, Florida, was convicted in June of first-degree murder with a special circumstances enhancement of murder for financial gain, for the incident that occurred in 2006, according to The Associated Press.

Prosecutors said that the 62-year-old killed he ex-wife Micki Kanesaki while they were on holiday together, in order to inherit more than $1m (£781,005) from the combined money from their bank accounts and the sale of their home that they shared joint ownership of.

Following the sentencing, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer wrote in a statement that Kocontes “almost got away with the perfect crime.”

He said: “Despite all of his painstaking planning to pick the perfect ship, the perfect room and the perfect time to commit a murder, the fact that he strangled her before throwing her overboard gave us the very evidence to convict him of murder.”

Mr Spitzer added: “She couldn’t breathe in water because she was dead long before her body ever hit the ocean and when authorities found her, her cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation – not drowning.”

During the trial, Kocontes testified that despite being divorced, he and Kanesaki had reconciled and were planning to get remarried. Since the end of their first relationship, Kocontes had remarried with Amy Nguyen, but they had split shortly before the trip.

However, prosecutors said that Kocontes had no intention of actually marrying his 52-year-old ex-wife, and was planning to kill her and make it look like an accident.

While they were divorced, both Kocontes and Kanesaki had their wills updated to make each other the executors of their estates, according to Knewz.

The cruise, which was from from Spain to Italy, left on May 21, 2006, and Kanesaki was last seen alive the night of May 25, according to the authorities.

While testifying, Kocontes said he had taken a sleeping pill on the night of his ex-wife’s death and had woken up to find Kanesaki missing, according to the AP.

Kocontes reported Kanesaki missing later that night and returned back to the US before his ex-wife’s body was found floating off the Italian coast, on 27 May, 2006, the prosecutors said.

An FBI investigation into Kocontes began in 2008, when he attempted to move $1m between banks accounts that he shared with another new wife.

After a long investigation, which included Ms Nguyen telling the authorities that Kocontes had said he had asked a friend to kill his ex-wife, the 62-year-old was indicted for Kanesaki’s murder in 2013 and has been in police custody since then.

Patch reported that Kocontes is also facing charges of attempting to solicit the murder of Ms Nguyen while he was in prison, in order to stop her from testifying.

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