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California prosecutors: Man threw ex-wife off cruise ship in Italy

A man was arraigned on indictment for murder on Monday by a California grand jury for throwing his ex-wife over the side of a cruise ship, according to the Orange County District Attorney.

The indictment against Lonnie Loren Kocontes, 55, includes one felony count of murder for financial gain.

Prosecutors said that that Kocontes and his ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, divorced in 2001 but lived together on and off for the next several years. They were also comfortable with traveling together and in 2006 went on a cruise that left from Spain.

That's when Kocontes is accused of strangling Kanesaki, throwing her body over the side of the ship into Italian waters — and then reporting her missing.

He later moved over $1 million from their joint bank accounts and the proceeds from the sale of their shared home into his own accounts and his new wife’s accounts, according to the DA.

According to the press release, the money transfer drew suspicions from the FBI and the Orange County Sheriff’s department later found additional evidence against Kocontes. He was arrested in February of this year.

Although a judge already ruled on May 29 that the state of California has the right to try the case since Kanesaki was a California resident, Kocontes will fight to have the case thrown out during a June 26 hearing, claiming that local authorities do not have jurisdiction to prosecute him, The Associated Press reported.

He did not enter a plea after his charges were read Monday.

If he is convicted, Kocontes faces a life sentence but would also be eligible for the death penalty, officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report