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Man charged in death of California attorney on Maui

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 5:08 p.m. HST, Sep 7, 2011

A 38-year-old Northern California man has been charged with kidnapping and murdering a California city attorney following a domestic dispute on the northern end of Maui, according to Maui County Prosecutor John Kim.

Kim identified the victim as Celestial Cassman, 35, an attorney for the cities of Santa Cruz and Capitola, Calif.

Kim said a criminal complaint charging Gerald W. Galaway Jr., of Santa Cruz, Calif., with second-degree murder and kidnapping was filed in Wailuku District Court Tuesday. Bail was set at $500,000. The suspect is being held at Maui Memorial Medical Center under police guard.

An arraignment date is awaiting word from Galaway's attorney, William Sloper, when his client will be able to go to court.

Kim said the kidnapping charge stems from police reports that a woman was dragged into the bushes.

Maui police officials have only said that a body was found at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday, after officers were called to a domestic dispute between a couple on Kahekili Highway near Nakalele Point. The police only have identified the victim as a California woman in her 30s.

Galaway was found Friday morning by the ocean. He sustained injuries and had to be airlifted by a helicopter from a rocky ledge.

Authorities said both Cassman and Galaway were from Santa Cruz.


Cassman worked for a Santa Cruz law firm providing legal services to several cities. Cassman was also a member of the board of directors for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Cruz County, a group that trains adult volunteers to serve as mentors to abused, neglected and abandoned children, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Cassman was born in Hawaii, according to a Santa Cruz Lake County Bee-Record newspaper said. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1998 before attending law school at UC Davis, according to the website of CASA, where Cassman served as a director.

Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that people were in shock over her death.

"She was a really good attorney and a great person, and had a really wonderful way about her in terms of how she interacted with people," he said.

Santa Cruz City Attorney John Barisone said in a statement that Cassman's death was "incalculable." 

According to KION News, Cassman sent a text message to a friend in Santa Cruz, Calif., calling Maui "fabulous" just one day before she was found dead at the bottom of a cliff.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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