Cold case murder suspect in court for allegedly killing a Tacoma man he landscaped for

A man accused of using a baseball bat in 1992 to beat to death a man he’d done landscaping for in Tacoma was arraigned Wednesday.

Danny Manoi, 48, is serving a 46-year sentence for a different homicide, which happened in 1995. Now he’s pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 1992 death of 69-year-old Bertil Luther.

Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set bail at $1 million.

Prosecutors charged Manoi with Luther’s death last month, after reviewing evidence from Tacoma police cold case investigators.

Charging papers give this account:

Luther’s body was found July 9, 1992, in a chair at his South Tacoma home, and investigators determined he died from blunt force trauma to his head.

Officers found a bloody baseball bat in the backyard, and learned Luther’s truck, wallet and jewelry box were gone.

His wife told investigators Manoi and another man had done yard work at the home. Witnesses later said they saw Manoi with a jewelry box and a wallet, and Luther’s truck was found across the street from where Manoi lived.

Manoi allegedly told one witness he beat Luther unconscious, but didn’t realized he’d killed him. He reportedly asked another witness if police could get fingerprints from a baseball bat.

Investigators recently submitted the bat to be retested for DNA, given advancements in the process.

The sentence Manoi is serving is for the 1995 Tacoma homicide of Clarence Pestana, an auto repairman. Manoi stabbed Pestana several times, and shot him twice in the head, in retaliation for a car the business took from an acquaintance for an overdue bill.

He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in that case.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell