Defendant charged in 1992 baseball bat killing
Prosecutors have dismissed the first-degree murder charge against a man accused of a cold-case Tacoma homicide as they take more time to look over evidence.
Danny Manoi, 48, was serving a lengthy prison sentence for an unrelated homicide when he was charged in November for the 1992 death of Bertil Luther.
Deputy prosecutor Tim Lewis wrote the court March 19 that the state needs more time to review new DNA evidence in the Luther case. The "apparent unavailability" of a material witness also is an issue, Lewis wrote.
"In the event the state, after review of all available evidence, determines that it can prove the elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt, the state may elect to re-file these charges at a later time," the deputy prosecutor wrote. "Until that time, the defendant should be returned to the Washington State Department of Corrections for continued service of his sentence imposed in other, unrelated cases."
Attempts to reach Manoi's attorney were unsuccessful Friday.
Luther was found dead in his South Tacoma home July 9, 1992, and his wallet, truck and a jewelry box were missing.
Blunt force trauma to his head killed him, and officers found a bloody baseball bat behind the home, according to charging papers.
Prosecutors charged Manoi after they reviewed evidence from Tacoma police cold-case investigators.
Luther's wife said that Manoi had done yard work at the home, and Manoi allegedly told a witness that he beat Luther unconscious but didn't know he'd killed him, charging papers say.
Investigators recently sent the bat to be retested for DNA because of advancements in that process.
Meanwhile, Manoi is serving a 46-year sentence for the unrelated homicide, which also happened in Tacoma.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the 1995 stabbing and shooting of auto repairman Clarence Pestana. Authorities said Manoi killed Pestana in retaliation for a car his business took from an acquaintance of Manoi's because of an overdue bill.