Mental evaluations part of plea change

WAILUKU – Examinations will proceed to determine the mental fitness of a California man charged with killing his girlfriend near Nakalele Point two years ago, his new attorney said Monday.

Gerald Galaway Jr., 39, is seeking the evaluations by three court-appointed psychiatrists or psychologists as part of his request to withdraw his no-contest pleas in the case.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, Galaway had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of manslaughter and kidnapping in the Sept. 1, 2011, killing of Celestial Dove Cassman.

The 35-year-old Santa Cruz attorney had arrived on Maui with Galaway, also of Santa Cruz, the day before her body was found under a tree off Kahekili Highway near Nakalele Point. An autopsy showed that she was strangled to death.

The mental health evaluations were ordered based on Galaway’s testimony that he felt pressured and was confused and “in a bit of a trance” when he entered the no-contest pleas last year.

Defense attorney Cary Virtue, who was appointed to represent Galaway, said Monday that the defendant wants to proceed with the examinations.

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza set a further hearing for May 28.