Health professionals to testify on mental fitness of Calif. man

WAILUKU – Three mental health professionals are expected to testify at a 2nd Circuit Court hearing Aug. 5 on the mental fitness of a California man arrested in the killing of his girlfriend at Nakalele Point two years ago.

Judge Joseph Cardoza said Tuesday that the hearing is necessary because the defense and prosecution don’t agree on the issue of whether Gerald Galaway Jr. is mentally fit to proceed in his court case.

Galaway, 40, was arrested 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.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, Galaway had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of manslaughter and kidnapping.

But he later asked to withdraw his no-contest pleas, saying he felt pressured and was confused and “in a bit of a trance” when he entered the pleas last year.

Three psychiatrists or psychologists were appointed to do mental evaluations of Galaway in connection with his request to withdraw the pleas.

The evidentiary hearing is needed because all three doctors don’t agree on Galaway’s mental fitness, said defense attorney David Wiltsie, who has been appointed to represent Galaway.

The hearing is set to begin at 9 a.m.

Galaway is being held without bail at the Maui Community Correctional Center.