[originally published at WrestlingObserver.com]
Thursday, 08 May 2014 13:57
True Bill Or No True Bill? On 31st Anniversary of Argentino Death, World Awaits Outcome of Jimmy Snuka Grand Jury
by Irvin Muchnick
May 10 marks the 31st anniversary of Nancy Argentino’s death in boyfriend Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s motel room just after a TV taping of the old WWF in Allentown, Pennsylvania. But this anniversary is different than the first 30 — it’s also the first since the publication of the ebook Justice Denied, which I put together in association with Nancy’s surviving sisters.
Today there is renewed hope that the arc of justice bends toward the truth. Shortly after our ebook was released, two enterprising Allentown Morning Call reporters, Adam Clark and Kevin Amerman, completed an investigative package that included two key and never before published documents. And just four months ago, the district attorney of Lehigh County, James Martin, took the extraordinary step of sending the Snuka-Argentino cold case to the Seventh Investigating Grand Jury. The panel is expected to complete its work (which includes other cases in addition to this one) by January 2015.
I’ve warned readers not to get their hopes up for an indictment, and I do so again. This time I want to amend my original analysis. Whether an indictment gets handed down should have nothing to do with the accelerated discomfort of the soon 71-year-old Snuka; manslaughter is manslaughter and murder is murder. The grand jury’s resolution, however, should have everything to do with the quality of the physical and verbal evidence, and that is likely to have deteriorated badly over the course of three decades. I say, go ahead and put Snuka in the dock if the evidence warrants it, but don’t do anything for show.
Grand jury deliberations are secret. The only thing we’ll know for sure is that when the panel issues its report, it will include a “true bill” (authorizing indictment) or “no true bill.”
If the latter, the question then becomes how elaborately the grand jury explains a decision not to indict. I have suggested that the jurors might not rest with a statement that the evidence is insufficient, but instead could report that the evidence would have been sufficient for a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter (the only homicide count now barred by the statute of limitations).
In addition, the grand jury might choose to comment on the work of William Platt, the district attorney in 1983, and Gerald Procanyn, the detective in the Allentown suburb of Whitehall who still works as a county investigator. If none of the above emerges from a “no true bill,” I will be disappointed. Procanyn lied about Snuka’s consistency and truthfulness, and didn’t even bother to have the wrestler driven around to try to locate the roadside spot where he claimed Argentino fell (in two or three of his numerous mix-and-match versions of his girlfriend’s fatal traumatic head injury).
Even if the grand jury does or says nothing specific, the process is historic. As in the case of the grand jury looking into the suicide of a University of Missouri student who had been raped by a football player, D.A. Martin’s choice to reexamine the Snuka case, freshly and in depth, defies the tendency of the criminal justice system to value the lives of celebrities and jocks over those of ordinary people and, especially, women in intimate relationships.
That, plus the money from the sales of Justice Denied that has been raised in Nancy’s memory for the My Sisters’ Place shelter in White Plains, New York, gives Louise, Lorraine, and me great satisfaction. As Lorraine put it: “After all the negative junk that was written about Nancy and Snuka getting away with all his lies, we have given Nancy a voice. She was really a sweet girl who made a fatal mistake.”
Meanwhile, what Vince McMahon and WWE have recently given Tamina Snuka is a push to Divas title matches. Perhaps this answers the question of whether the father’s troubles would be visited on the daughter.
All along, we should have known Tamina had nothing to worry about on that score. After all, I quoted an investigator saying that McMahon told him in ’83: “Look, I’m in the garbage business. If you think I’m going to be hurt by the revelation that one of my wrestlers is really a violent individual, you’re mistaken.”
JUSTICE DENIED: The Untold Story of Nancy Argentino’s Death in Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s Motel Room — which includes Muchnick’s original 1992 article on the case, supplemental chapters, and new photos and documents — can be purchased for $2.99 at http://amzn.com/B00CPTP6VM. Readers without Amazon Kindle-compatible devices can get a PDF file copy by sending $2.99, via PayPal, to [email protected]. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the My Sisters’ Place women’s shelter and resource center.
Complete links to Muchnick’s Snuka-Argentino coverage are at https://concussioninc.net/?p=8611.