Legendary WWE wrestler Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka could soon be discharged in his Pennsylvania court case for the alleged 1983 murder of his then-girlfriend, Nancy Argentino.
The now 73-year-old Snuka — who has traveled the world as one of the most well-known wrestlers of his era — sat opposite Lehigh County judge Kelly Banach for several hours on Friday as part of a mental capacity hearing to determine whether a murder trial will proceed, the New York Daily News reported.
Snuka’s defense team claims that the former wrestler is not guilty; Snuka himself seemed unaware of, well — pretty much anything.
During the hearing, the seemingly punch-drunk Snuka seemed unable to remember Judge Banach’s name, the U.S. president’s name, or even what year it was.
He also said he had no idea why he was even appearing before a judge.
Snuka’s defense — as well as an unnamed psychological expert — mirrored the claims of many Philadelphia area wrestling fans and colleagues, who cite the years of head trauma the former wrestler has suffered during the course of his career.
In other words, many believe Snuka is unfit to even stand trial.
Snuka — a native of Fiji who now lives in New Jersey — told police in 1983 that he had found Argentino unresponsive in their hotel room in Whitehall Township after returning from his performance at a then-World Wrestling Federation wrestling show at the Allentown Fairgrounds.
Snuka, however, was never charged with murder despite an autopsy determining that Argentino died of “traumatic brain injuries,” having had nearly 40 cuts and bruises; it was decided that she had been hit with some sort of a stationary object.
The case, however, was reopened in 2013 after the release of Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story and a subsequent The Morning Call newspaper story seemed to point to variances between Snuka’s 1983 testimony and what was being revealed in the writings. At that time, Snuka, then recovering from a severe bout of stomach cancer, was told he faced charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Former wrestler Don Muraco, who is famed for his in-ring battles with Snuka at the time of Argentino’s death, spoke of his opponent’s legal situation during a 2015 podcast interview, per Wrestling Inc.
“I was right there around it the whole time. It was the week after we shot the thing where he tore all my clothes off and I hit him with the microphone… he called me in the middle of the night and that’s how I ended up crossing over with all of the State Troopers and everything else and that’s how I got involved, but I could see my whole future going down the drain there for a while.”
The two, however, would remain friends to this day.
“I was talking to him on the phone until he started having his medical issues,” said Muraco at the time. “I haven’t spoken to him in a while. His wife wanted me to see him when I’m up in New Jersey and she wanted me to say hello to him and kind of perk up his spirits.”
The defense, it seems, centers around the health situation noted by Muraco.
In particular, Snuka’s lawyers are focused on his own inability to relay either the name of the judge or his defense lawyer, Robert Kirwin, instead falling back on general nicknames such as “brother,” “dear,” “hon,” and “sister.”
Certain aspects of Snuka’s memory, however, seemed a bit more fresh, albeit recited as if “Superfly” were giving one of his famous wrestling interviews.
“I said a prayer, climbed to the top of the cage, and ‘Super flied’ off,” smiled Snuka, recalling his time in the spotlight that came at about the same time of Argentino’s death. They always say [professional wrestling] is fake, but, to me, I don’t think so.”
Snuka, who talked extensively about having his head abused during the course of hundreds of wrestling matches, could only smile as he talked about the prospect of returning the favor.
“Maybe the next time,” beamed Snuka while recalling his glory days, “when we meet again, then it’s my turn to kick him.”
Upon being asked by Judge Banach about whether he’d be capable of contributing to his own defense, even jumping off of a symbolic building if his lawyer needed it, Snuka could only continue his in-court promo.
“I have done it,” said Snuka assuredly.
And that fact, it seems, the legendary wrestling star knew better than anything else.
[Image by Joe Stevens /AP Images]