Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka Murder Trial Delay Combines With District Attorney’s Defamation Lawsuit to Expose Rot at Core of Lehigh County Criminal Justice

Published March 15th, 2016, Uncategorized

Headline links to our 24 years of coverage of the Jimmy Snuka-Nancy Argentino homicide investigation are at http://concussioninc.net/?p=10501.

 

 

by Irvin Muchnick

 

 

A mental competency hearing in Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s murder trial for the 1983 death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino, originally scheduled for this Friday, was put off until May. Snuka’s mouthpieces are telling the judge that one of the biggest stars in WWE history, now in his 70s, doesn’t know what day of the week it is.

Whether Snuka understands the 33-year-old charges against him, and should face a jury of his peers, only his hairdresser knows. It is right to be skeptical of the legal ploys of a defendant practiced at “working” the public. It is also undeniable that his pro wrestling career inflicted brain damage, no matter how conveniently timed this claim might be for his defense and how inconveniently for the prosecution and the Argentino family.

What all of us know, however, is that the justice system in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, is a joke. James Martin, the district attorney who was part of the team that whiffed on prosecuting Snuka at the time of the incident, for reasons never explained, is now bringing a case on essentially the same evidence the county sat on for more than three decades.

But that’s not all. Martin also is suing local blogger Bill Villa for defamation. Villa lost his daughter in a drunk-driving accident — with the son of a well-connected Allentown lawyer behind the wheel — and ever since has been hammering Martin with revelations and insights on Lehigh County’s porous and inconsistent handling of vehicular homicide cases. Among other matters.

Martin says he’s litigating against Villa (who also has commented on his daughters’ death and other cases on WAEB radio) as a private citizen, not as a public official. This claim makes no sense. Villa’s deliberately indelicate critique of the entrenched D.A. — whose systematic missteps go unremarked upon by the spineless Allentown Morning Call — is based entirely on his record as the county’s chief prosecutor. It is hard to conjure a civil action that would be more susceptible to a successful countersuit if Pennsylvania had a comprehensive “anti-SLAPP” statute, which the commonwealth currently does not. (“SLAPP” stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.”) Nowhere is the erosion of the First Amendment more evident.

The good news is that the blubbering Martin already has lost a round in the pre-trial maneuvering over the disclosure of records in the prosecutions Villa has criticized.

You follow this kind of stuff as long as I have — and yeah, you can throw the Trump candidacy in there, too — and you find yourself amending your original premise that life imitates wrestling. Wrong. Life is wrestling.