Galas murder trial set for 2016

LIHUE — Nine years since the death of his wife, a Kalaheo man indicted for her murder will stand trial next March.

Darren Galas, 43, who was charged with second-degree murder of his estranged wife, Sandra Galas, in 2012, will go on trial March 16, 2016, after his defense filed five stipulations of continuance since 2013.

Relatives of Sandra Galas expressed their disappointment over the trial’s drawn-out process.

“It’s just frustrating with the defense asking for a continuance,” said Lawrence Mendonca, Sandra’s father. “The guy’s been indicted for over two years now and the court date now is scheduled for March of next year.”

Michael Green, Galas’s attorney, did not respond to requests for comment.

Justin Kollar, County of Kauai prosecuting attorney, said courts will generally not force a defendant to trial when the defense is stating it needs more time.

“To do so could create a grounds for reversal of the conviction on appeal,” Kollar wrote in an email. “We understand this is a difficult and frustrating process at times; however, these are the rules we are bound to operate under.”

Because of the complexity of murder cases, Kollar said it isn’t uncommon for similar cases to have multiple stipulations of continuances.

Mendonca said his faith for the legal system has diminished since Galas was indicted in 2012. Galas is out on $300,000 bail.

“I don’t have any confidence in the legal system or the justice system anymore,” he said. “This last nine years has been an education on my part.”

Mendonca said he’s waiting for justice.

“You get a case like this and it’s tight-lipped on what they want to give out,” he said. “They don’t want to injure and damage their case.”

Kollar said while the case is pending, he can’t say anything that could potentially cause an issue later on.

“Our hands are tied in those situations,” he said.

Before his daughter’s slaying, Mendonca recalls Sandy having a promising future.

“She was initially a manager of the Beach House Restaurant in Poipu and she’d just gotten a change of job as an assistant food and beverage manager at the Grand Hyatt,” he said.

Nine years since Sandra’s death, her family and friends continue to mourn her.

“It was a big loss to everybody — her friends, of course us, her brother and the people who lost the most was her two sons,” Mendonca said.

Sandra Galas, 27, was found dead in her car, which was parked inside the garage of her Eleele home on Jan. 25, 2006, according to reports. She suffered strangulation from a cord-like object and blunt-force trauma to the head as causes of death.

The couple were married in 1999 and separated in April 2005. Sandra filed for divorce in August 2005 and was killed while she and Darren were involved in a custody dispute over their two children.

In a 2006 KPD arrest log, Darren was arrested in connection to the case for suspicion of second-degree murder on Jan. 26, 2006, but was released after two days.

Galas was arrested as a result of evidence compiled by Ke Ahi Pioole (“the fire that never burns out”), Hawaii’s first prosecutor-directed cold case murder unit, according to a previous TGI report.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Mr. Galas was 33.

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