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Man pleads no contest to strangling woman on Maui vacation

A California man accused of murdering an attorney while they vacationed on Maui has pleaded no contest to a reduced manslaughter charge.

The Maui prosecuting attorney’s office said Gerald Galaway Jr., of Santa Cruz, changed his plea Thursday. He also pleaded no contest to kidnapping.

The body of Celestial Cassman, also of Santa Cruz, was found in September near Nakalele Point after witnesses reported seeing her struggling with a man. When police arrived, the man jumped off a cliff into the ocean. Police rescued Galaway from a reef the following morning.

An autopsy determined Cassman died of asphyxiation. Cassman worked for a Santa Cruz law firm, representing several cities.

Galaway faces 20 to 40 years when he’s sentenced Sept. 11.

Defense attorney William Sloper declined to comment Friday.

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