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California man wants to change plea in murder case

August 23, 2012
The Maui Weekly

The Maui News - A Santa Cruz, Calif., man arrested in the killing of his girlfriend last year at Nakalele Point is asking to withdraw his no-contest pleas in the case. His attorney said the defendant "felt pressured by his family" to accept a plea deal.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, Gerald Galaway Jr., 39, pleaded no contest June 7 to a reduced charge of manslaughter and kidnapping in the killing of 35-year-old Celestial Dove Cassman, also of Santa Cruz, on Sept. 1.

The prosecution dismissed a charge of attempted first-degree sexual assault in exchange for his pleas.

Instead of life in prison with the possibility of parole, Galaway was facing a prison term of 20 to 40 years, with his sentencing scheduled for Sept. 11.

But in a motion filed last week by defense attorney William Sloper, Galaway asked to withdraw the pleas.

The motion says Galaway "was concerned with the financial burden a trial would have on his family" and "did not understand that he could have a court-appointed attorney represent him at no cost to himself or his family."

Cassman's body was found under a tree near Mile Marker 38 on Kahekili Highway the evening of Sept. 1, 2011, after a resident witnessed a struggle between Galaway and Cassman. An autopsy showed that she had been strangled.

In his motion, Sloper said Galaway didn't have a clear mind when he entered the no-contest pleas and had been under psychiatric care at O'ahu Community Correctional Center before entering the pleas.



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