Prosecutors call Maui murder case 'heinous, atrocious, cruel' - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Prosecutors call Maui murder case 'heinous, atrocious, cruel'

Celestial Cassman Celestial Cassman
Police investigators at the site of the initial incident Police investigators at the site of the initial incident
Nakalele Point Nakalele Point
Zach Friend Zach Friend
June Stockbridge June Stockbridge

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Court documents say Gerald Galaway Jr. and Celestial Cassman, both from Santa Cruz, Calif., checked into the Kaanapali Beach Hotel together last week Wednesday. By Thursday, Cassman, 35, was dead, and police alleged Galaway, is responsible.

Galaway faces second-degree murder and kidnapping charges. Cassman was born in Hawaii and served as a deputy city attorney in Santa Cruz.

In the 51-page court filing, Maui County prosecutors said the crime was committed "in an especially heinous, atrocious or cruel manner."

Witnesses reported seeing the two arguing in their rented car, and then later, fighting on the side of Kahekili Highway near Nakalele Point, the northernmost point of Maui.

At least one witness tried to intervene, but was told by Galaway that everything was "fine." The female witness told police that Galaway began lifting Cassman up and slamming her body to the roadway several times.

Cassman tried to fight back.

When the witness continued to try to stop him, Galaway became more irate. The witness then left to find someone with a cell phone so that she could call 911.

Cassman's body was later found under a tree, down an embankment.

Those who knew Cassman are shocked by her death.

"She's just one of those people that brought a lot of joy to anybody who met her," said Zach Friend of the Santa Cruz Police Department. "To even describe her loss is just so hard with words."

"We take pride in the fact that all of our employees are very caring, giving people, and just want to do the best for other people," said friend June Stockbridge of Easter Seals. "And so this is really just a difficult situation. We are very saddened."

In the documents, police also said Cassman may have been sexually assaulted. Detectives said that when officers arrived, Galaway was not wearing pants, and that the top of the bathing suit Cassman was wearing had been ripped open. For now, prosecutors have not charged Galaway with sexual assault, although the kidnapping charge alleges that Galaway "did intentionally or knowingly restrain Celestial Cassman with intent to inflict bodily injury upon her or subject her to a sexual offense." Prosecutors also said more charges are possible as the investigation continues.

Galaway's defense attorney, William Sloper, declined comment, except to say, "Mr. Galaway is presumed innocent of the charges against him."

Galaway was injured when he jumped off a 100-foot cliff into the ocean to try to elude police. He was rescued the following morning and taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Most court proceedings in the case are on hold while Galaway is hospitalized. A status hearing on his condition is scheduled in court Thursday. Bail is set at $500,000.

While the document goes into sometimes graphic detail about the case, it doesn't answer the question of the exact cause of Cassman's death. Results of an autopsy report are pending.

Click to read charging documents.


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