LIHU‘E — Bail was reduced Tuesday for a Kalaheo man who has been charged with the 2006 murder of his estranged wife, but he was denied supervised release.
Judge Kathleen Watanabe said Tuesday in 5th Circuit Court that after hearing testimony, arguments and considering all evidence, she would allow an alternative reduction of bail from $1 million to $300,000 in the state’s case against Darren Galas, 40, of Kalaheo. If Galas should make bail, the conditions would include ankle monitoring and daily supervision.
If he fails to comply with the terms, Watanabe said the defendant would be held in custody until his jury trial, which is set for April 1, 2013.
Galas is accused of killing his estranged wife, Sandra Galas, 27, in 2006. The defendant was indicted on a second-degree murder charge on Oct. 31.
During Tuesday’s hearing, heated questioning from County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Murphy and defense counsel Michael Green produced more details about the case, including that Sandra Galas was pregnant at the time of her death.
Murphy said the violent and pre-meditated murder is enough reason to keep bail at $1 million. He referred to the bailable defense statutes saying the suspect faces a possible life sentence, is a flight risk, could attempt to influence or intimidate possible witnesses, and is a threat to himself, the people around him and the community.
Murphy said the precedent for a million-dollar bail was set with the Vicente Hilario murder trial set for January.
Green said that Galas has no prior criminal history, has been steadily employed by the state and the county, and maintains a home with his two sons, his current wife and her three children. Green said Galas is a model citizen and is not a flight risk.
Seeking to support the claims that Galas was a responsible Kaua‘i native who is not dangerous and has no intention of fleeing, the questions and statements turned from the subject of bail to the case itself.
Green said there is no significant change in the discovery evidence in this case today than was produced six years ago. He asked why was the cold case prosecuted on the eve of an election by a prosecutor who had lost in the primaries?
Officer Bryson Ponce was called to testify on the motion as the lead detective in the case for the Kaua‘i Police Department. He responded to Green’s questions, noting that Galas displayed a significant psychological change prior to his arrest.
Ponce said that Galas bowed his head with tears in his eyes when he was asked if he had killed his wife. Galas said “he would not admit to anything,” which is not a confession but may imply guilt, Ponce added.
Ponce said that Galas was in possession of several firearms that are not registered. His wife turned them in as a requirement of the federal indictment and the weapons are being traced for their point of origin.
Murphy’s line of questioning produced comments from Ponce that witnesses described Galas as an extremely jealous individual.
Other evidence included a dozen new or repeat interviews of witnesses.
Ponce also said that DNA from Galas was found on the victim’s clothing. Green asked if the tests had been conducted on other clothing in the home. Ponce said they had not.
Green brought up other information from the police reports indicating that the victim was pregnant at the time of her death. He said she had more than one relationship and was last dating a known felon Ryan Yukio Shinjo, 41, who is currently housed at a low-security federal correctional complex in Lompoc, Calif.
Shinjo is serving time as a codefendant in a federal case on methamphetamine trafficking and money laundering charges from 2007.
Green said Shinjo and Sandra Galas had a stormy relationship, and he wanted to know why testing wasn’t done to see if Shinjo’s DNA was present on the victim’s clothing.
Sandra Galas was found dead in her car that was parked inside the garage of her ‘Ele‘ele home on Jan. 25, 2006.
An autopsy determined she had been strangled and suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
Darren and Sandra Galas were in the midst of divorcing and reportedly embroiled in a custody battle over their two young children at the time.
Darren Galas has since remarried and the children have remained in his legal custody.