Wrestling legend Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka has been charged with murder following the death of his girlfriend in a hotel room more than three decades ago.

Prosecutors announced on 1 August, that Snuka had been charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter following a grand jury investigation into the death of 23-year-old Nancy Argentino in a hotel room the pair were sharing in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in May 1983.

He was charged at Lehigh County jail in Pennsylvania, and released on a $500,000 (£330,000) bond, said Lehigh district attorney James Martin.

Snuka rose to fame in the 1980s as a high-flying wrestler in what was then known as the WWF.

On the night of 10 May 1983, paramedics responding to an emergency call from Snuka arrived at a hotel to find Argentino unresponsive.

"[Argentino] was unconscious, and her breathing was intermittent and shallow," Martin said in a statement. "Her pupils were dilated and didn't move, indications of a head injury, [and] a monitor showed Argentino had a fast heart rate, which indicated head injury and shock."

A few hours later she was pronounced dead, with an autopsy report saying she had a skull fracture and died of craniocerebral injuries. Snuka changed his account of what happened to Argentino, initially claiming she fell and hit her head in the hotel room, then that she fell on the side of a highway.

Argentino's family won an unlawful death suit against Snuka, but he was never charged by authorities.

In his 2012 autobiography, Snuka denied allegations that he was involved in Argentino's death.

"Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true," he wrote Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story.

"This has been very hard on me and very hard on my family ... I will say this about the whole thing, brudda – that night ruined my life. To this day, that is how I feel."

The book prompted Argentino's family to request police repoen the investigation, and with evidence gained from interviews with new witnesses, and sections from the autobiography, including parts in which he admits to the use of illegal and prescription drugs, prosecutors brought charges.

"Based on all the evidence that was presented to the grand jury," wrote Martin, "members concluded: 'It is our determination that the weight of the evidence clearly indicates that James Snuka repeatedly assaulted Nancy Argentino on May 10, 1983, and then allowed her to lie in their bed at the George Washington Motor Lodge without obtaining the necessary medical attention' and that "his assaultive acts and his failure to act to obtain medical attention resulted in her death.'"