WAILUKU - A new attorney will be appointed for a California man arrested in the killing of his girlfriend at Nakalele Point two years ago, after he lodged a complaint against his court-appointed attorney.
Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza granted the request Tuesday after questioning Gerald Galaway Jr., who said he agreed with attorney Cary Virtue's request to withdraw from the case.
But the judge told Galaway, "This won't be an exercise where we're going through all the members of the bar to see if there's somebody out there that can represent you.
"I can't just allow these proceedings to be delayed without some reason for doing so," Cardoza said.
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 have been appointed to do mental evaluations of Galaway as part of his request to withdraw the pleas.
Virtue was appointed in March to represent Galaway after the public defender's office asked to withdraw, citing an "irreparable breakdown of the attorney-client relationship."
Before then, Wailuku attorney William Sloper had been hired to represent Galaway.
"Not every relationship works out on a court appointment," Virtue said in court Tuesday.
He said he was contacted by the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel and learned Galaway had filed a complaint. "It's like a divorce, we're done," Virtue said.
First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera said Galaway was claiming that he didn't understand what he was doing when he changed his pleas "and at the same time, he's firing lawyer after lawyer after lawyer and he's refusing to have the mental examination done."
Cardoza said he was granting the request for a new attorney after questioning Galaway, who seemed to understand what was occurring.
A return date for Tuesday was set for Galaway to appear in court with his new attorney.
Galaway is being held without bail at the Maui Community Correctional Center.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.