Jimmy Snuka, a former professional wrestler known for his acrobatic moves in the ring and for a late-in-life murder charge that was thrown out after he was declared mentally unfit, died on Sunday in Florida. He was 73.
The death was announced on the website of World Wrestling Entertainment, where Mr. Snuka was a star in the 1970s and ’80s. His lawyer, Robert Kirwan, said Mr. Snuka died at his son-in-law’s home near Pompano Beach.
The actor and former wrestler Dwayne Johnson, a relative of Mr. Snuka’s, shared the news earlier on Twitter.
Our family @TaminaSnuka asked me to share the sad news that her dad Jimmy Snuka has just passed away. Alofa atu i le aiga atoa. #RIPSuperfly
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) 15 janvier 2017
Mr. Snuka, known in his wrestling days as Superfly, died less than two weeks after a judge in Pennsylvania threw out a murder charge against him in connection with the death in 1983 of Mr. Snuka’s mistress, Nancy Argentino, whose body was found in a hotel room they had shared in Whitehall Township, Pa. Prosecutors said she had been beaten to death, but the case went cold for 32 years.
That changed after the publication in 2012 of Mr. Snuka’s candid autobiography, “Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story,” which brought Ms. Argentino’s death back into the spotlight and led to an investigation by The Morning Call, a newspaper in Allentown, Pa., that raised new questions about the case. He was charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in 2015.
“Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true,” Mr. Snuka wrote. “I never hit Nancy or threatened her. I never wanted to harm her.”
“That night ruined my life,” he continued. “If I was guilty of anything, it was cheating on my wife, and that was it. Nancy was a good girl. I will never forget what happened to her.”
Among the details reported by The Morning Call were a 1983 autopsy report that labeled Ms. Argentino’s death a homicide and the discovery that Mr. Snuka had told five people, including police officers and hospital workers, that she had suffered a head injury after he pushed her.
Mr. Snuka later changed his story when questioned by the police, saying he had not hit her, but two years later Ms. Argentino’s family won $500,000 in a wrongful-death lawsuit against him. Mr. Snuka never paid them.
Mr. Kirwan, his lawyer, said in June that Mr. Snuka suffered from dementia. He told the court in December that Mr. Snuka was living in hospice care in Florida with an estimated six months to live.
The judge, Kelly Banach, deemed Mr. Snuka mentally unfit to stand trial on Jan. 3 and threw out the case.
Mr. Snuka was born James Wiley Smith in the Fiji Islands in 1943. After moving to the United States, he became one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling, a charismatic performer who wore a Tarzan-like outfit and was known for leaping onto his competitors from atop the turnbuckle.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.
He was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1996.
The W.W.E., which was known as the World Wrestling Federation during Mr. Snuka’s heyday, remembered him on Sunday as “the pioneer of high-flying offense,” in particular his signature move, “the Superfly splash.”
“His dive off the top of the steel cage onto Don Muraco at Madison Square Garden as hundreds of flash bulbs went off,” the organization said in a statement, “will forever live as one of the most memorable moments in W.W.E. history.”