Maui News

Grand Jury Indictment Handed Down in Maui Murder Case

September 9, 2011, 5:09 PM HST
* Updated September 13, 10:35 AM
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By Wendy Osher

County Prosecuting Attorney (standing, left) and Defense Attorney William Sloper (right) appeared in a status hearing in District Court on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

A grand jury indictment was handed down today in a case involving the death of a Santa Cruz woman on Maui. The defendant, Gerald W. Galaway Jr., who remains hospitalized at Maui Memorial Medical Center, is also being served with a grand jury warrant in the case.

The indictment stems from a September 1, 2011 homicide investigation in the remote Nakalele Point area of West Maui. Officers responding to a domestic dispute on that day, recovered the body of Celestial Cassman, according to police reports included in the initial complaint.

The complaint further detailed that Galaway was taken into custody after he allegedly fled from police and jumped from a cliff to the ocean below.

Maui police have since released information today, that the cause of Cassman’s death was asphyxiation. The manner, police say, remains under investigation.

Maui District Court Judge Kelsey Kawano. Photo by Wendy Osher.

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During a status hearing today in Wailuku District Court, Judge Kelsey Kawano granted the prosecution’s request to dismiss the judicial determination of probable cause without prejudice. This effectively allows matters involving the felony case to be handled under the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, and proceed by way of the grand jury indictment.

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During today’s status hearing, Defense Attorney William Sloper told the judge his “biggest problem is lack of access” to visit and speak with his client confidentially.

Sloper told the judge, “I was close to being out of my mind,” when by Sunday afternoon, on the 4th of September, he had not yet been granted access to visit his client.

Later that night, Sloper said, permission was granted, but confidentiality remained a concern as an officer, he told the court, was within earshot of the conversation he attempted to carry out with Galloway from his hospital bed.

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Galaway’s mother, who arrived on Maui yesterday (September 8, 2011), was denied visitation and telephone calls with her son, according to Sloper. She is expected to leave on Wednesday, “and will likely miss the opportunity to see her son,” Sloper told the judge.

He asked that both be allowed visitation with Galloway, saying he would agree to an officer being place outside the door.

Maui County Prosecuting Attorney John D. Kim called the defense’s argument, “totally premature, one-sided, and a hearing by ambush.”

Kim said the court cannot, “accept on whole cloth,” the statements made by Sloper without making a motion, giving those involved a chance to respond, and allowing parties to be called as witnesses.

Kim called the defense’s request a “diversion of resources,” and suggested the motion be handled under the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court.

Details of the charges included in the indictment are confidential until the defendant is served. The initial complaint had included a count of murder in the second degree and a count of kidnapping. The document also alleged “intent to inflict bodily injury upon her (Cassman) or subject her to a sexual offense.”

The bench warrant authorizes the arrest of a defendant, and commands that he be brought before the court as soon as possible. Since Galaway is hospitalized, his court appearance will likely depend on when doctors determine he is physically able to appear in court.

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