LIHUE — For several years, the YWCA of Kauai has highlighted the life of an Eleele woman who was found dead after her estranged husband allegedly strangled her to death.
This year, the organization plans to repeat the event with its ninth annual Never Forget Sandy G Golf Tournament on Aug. 7 at Puakea Golf Course.
“We’re putting on the event because we think it’s important that people remember Sandy,” said Director Renae Hamilton.
Darren Galas, 44, was charged with second-degree murder seven years after Kauai police found Sandy Mendonca Galas, 27, dead in her car in the garage of her Eleele home on Jan. 25, 2006.
Police found Sandy Galas strangled to death with a cordlike object and blunt-force trauma to her head, according to reports.
Darren Galas was arrested by officers, held for 48 hours on suspicion of her murder, but released pending charges.
Galas’ current trial date is set for Nov. 28. He is out on $300,000 bail after having his bail reduced from $1 million in 2012.
“We’re hoping that he’ll finally go to trial,” Hamilton said.
Lawrence Mendonca, Sandy’s father, said he’s frustrated by the judicial process that allowed Galas to be released and have his trial repeatedly delayed.
“She was murdered over 10 years ago,” Mendonca said. “It’s a mess.”
The state has filed six stipulations to continue the trial date per agreements with the defense since the inception of the case. The case has seen two offices of the prosecuting attorneys.
Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar received the case right before the general election four years ago when then prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho indicted Galas.
“When we began working on it, it became clear that there was still significant work to do before the case would be trial ready for either the state or the defense,” Kollar said. “That work has been happening and is nearing conclusion. This is a complex case and a serious case, and trying it before the necessary steps have been taken would be a real disservice to the deceased. We do expect the case to proceed to trial in November.”
Police Chief Darryl Perry told The Garden Island in April that new evidence in the cold case was discovered after KPD worked diligently through Ke Ahi Pio’ole, a prosecutor-directed cold case murder unit.
The new evidence, which included DNA samples and forensics, subsequently led to the capture of Darren Galas.
Perry said he wants to see justice for Sandy and her family.
“While I am frustrated that the adjudication of the murder trial will be delayed once again, I am also confident that when the case does go to trial, the combined efforts of KPD and the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney will lead to a successful conviction, knowing that justice was served for Sandy and her ohana,” he said.
Proceeds from the Never Forget Sandy G Golf Tournament will be donated to the YWCA of Kauai.