Venue change sought in murder case

LIHUE — The attorney for a man charged with the murder of an Eleele woman found strangled in her car 10 years ago said Tuesday he will ask the court to change the venue of the case.

Michael Green, defense attorney for Darren Galas, said he has 90 days to file a written motion with the Fifth Circuit Court to change the venue for the murder case.

Galas is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Sandy Mendonca Galas, who was found strangled to death with a cordlike object and blunt-force trauma to her head, according to reports.

Police found Sandy Mendonca Galas, 27, dead in her car in the garage of her Eleele home on Jan. 25, 2006.

Green told the court Tuesday he was in the process of gathering information for his client and that the Mendonca Galas’ death was highly publicized on Kauai.

“I was totally unaware of the publicity that comes every year because of the death of this woman,” Green told the court. “I want to put that before the court. We are trying to get all the information we can from the media, from the golf course and from all the sources that became public from remembering her.”

The father of Mendonca Galas, Larry Mendonca, in collaboration with the YWCA of Kauai, every year puts on a golf tournament called the Sandy G Golf Tournament to raise money for victims of domestic violence and programs at the YWCA. The golf tournament has been going on for nine years.

Several members of the community, including state legislators, have contributed toward the Sandy G Golf tournament.

This year was one of the biggest tournaments, with about 96 golfers teeing off, said YWCA of Kauai Director Renae Hamilton.

At the beginning of every tournament, a member of the Mendonca family reminds golfers of the importance of the event, why they are there and thanks everyone, Hamilton said.

“This is a father, who with reason, keeps this going for years and years and years,” Green told The Garden Island. “(Kauai) is a small community. We’ll see what the court does. I just want my client to have a fair trial.”

Green also asked to continue the trial, which was set for Nov. 28, due to the upcoming motion to change venue.

The court granted the continuance over an objection by the state. The new trial date was moved to Jan. 3.

“The few items we had to follow up on have all been addressed to the state’s satisfaction,” said prosecuting attorney Justin Kollar.

One of the few items the state had to address was interviewing and polygraphing a witness — the boyfriend of Mendonca Galas — who had just been released from federal prison on drug charges, Green said.

Larry Mendonca said he was frustrated with the defense about the case being delayed and continued time after time.

“These are stalling tactics,” he said. “I’m tired of this.”

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