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Arraignment scheduled: OC man charged with killing wife on cruise in Italy

Lonnie Kocontes, 55, of Safety Harbor, Fla. (left) was arrested on one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. He is accused of allegedly strangling his ex-wife, identified as Micki Kanesaki (right), and throwing her body overboard on a cruise in Italy in 2006.
June 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Mission Viejo attorney accused of strangling his wife and dumping her body overboard during a cruise was set to be arraigned Monday morning.

Lonnie Kocontes is accused of strangling wife Micki Kanesaki and throwing her body overboard in 2006 aboard a cruise ship in Italy.

An Orange County Superior Court judge dismissed the case last month, agreeing with defense attorneys that the District Attorney's Office lacks jurisdiction in the case.

Prosecutors re-filed charges against Kocontes.

Kocontes, a former resident of Mission Viejo, was arrested at his home in Florida on Feb. 16. The California man was extradited to Orange County Friday to face a charge of murder for financial gain.

The motive is believed to be money. The couple both worked for the same law firm in the 1990s and were married for six years before they divorced in 2001. The couple continued to live together on and off through 2006, when Kocontes reported her missing during the cruise in Italy

.

Authorities say Kocontes inherited several of the couple's bank accounts, properties, and proceeds from the sale of their home as a result of his ex-wife's death.

According to the O.C. District Attorney's Office, federal investigators began investigating Kocontes for illegal activity after he attempted to transfer more than $1 million between various bank accounts with his new wife.

In 2010, the District Attorney's office requested an additional investigation on the murder case. New evidence was uncovered by the O.C. Sheriff's Department in 2012, leading to the suspect's arrest in February.

Kocontes is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The suspect is also eligible for the death penalty.


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