Lonnie Loren Kocontes, 62, was charged with strangling his ex-wife, 52-year-old Micki Kanesaki, during a Mediterranean cruise and throwing her body over the side of the cruise ship in order to profit financially from her death. He reported her missing the following day but her body was found on May 27, 2006, and an autopsy showed that she’d died before she entered the water, WFTV9 wrote.
Kocontes, a former attorney in California, was arrested and charged with her murder in February 2013 after a lengthy investigation that involved scrutiny from the Federal Bureau when he tried to transfer $1 million from his ex-wife’s accounts to his own. Kocontes’ third wife, who was by then his ex-wife, testified that he had told her about the plan to kill Kanesaki, the outlet reported.
On June 15, 2020, Kocontes was convicted of murder with a special-circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain, NBC Los Angeles reported.
Kocontes Was Recently Convicted of Murder & Sentenced to Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole
Kocontes was convicted of murder in June 2020 after only about an hour of jury deliberations and on September 18, 2020, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, NBC Los Angeles reported. Kocontes was also accused of trying to recruit someone to murder his ex-wife Nguyen so she couldn’t testify against him but those charges were dropped due to his life sentence, the Orange County Register wrote.
NBC Los Angeles reported that during the sentencing, Kanesaki’s brother Toshi Kanesaki told Kocontes, “You, Lonnie, executed my younger sister on that Mediterranean cruise ship… You strangled Micki… then you threw her body overboard like trash… You are a vicious criminal, evil person, a cold-blooded killer, a sociopath.”
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said, “[Kocontes] almost got away with murder. Except for the fact that he strangled her to death before he threw her body overboard. Because she died before she hit the water her lungs were filled with air, not water. So she floated. And by a miracle, her body was discovered,” a press release stated.
Kocontes is currently in the Theo Lacy Facility, a maximum-security jail complex, public records show. It houses inmates who have been charged with a range of crimes as well as those sentenced, like Kocontes, before they are transferred to state prison.
Kocontes’ Trial Was Delayed for Years As the Court Debated Whether the Trial Could Take Place in California
There were many delays in the case’s progress and it was over 14 years after Kanesaki’s murder and seven years after his arrest that Kocontes was convicted and sentenced. The trial was first delayed for several years as it wasn’t clear if prosecutors in Orange County had the capacity to move forward with the case because the murder happened in international waters and outside their jurisdiction. The case eventually did move forward because prosecutors argued that Kocontes planned the killing in Orange County, the Register stated.
Once the trial began in February 2020, it was further delayed in the middle of the case because of the COVID-19 pandemic leading to the shutdown of court facilities. The case resumed months later with new measures in place, the Register wrote. Kocontes attempted to represent himself numerous times in place of his court-appointed lawyer but he was denied.