A Break In The Sandy G Case

Darren Galas

For me, it was one of those moments rivaling any in which you remember exactly what you were doing – 9-11, the day President Kennedy was shot, or President Obama elected. Hearing that an arrest had finally been made in the Sandra Galas case was something I hoped would happen for six years, and I am happy for the family that it has happened. (Yes, there was an initial arrest seven years ago for 48 hours, but he was released). The first thing I did following a prayer of thanks was to call Lawrence Mendonca, father of the slain woman, and say my thoughts were with his family. Having developed a close relationship with the Mendoncas over the years – despite having met under the sad circumstances of her death while I was covering the case – I felt such vicarious relief.

On Oct. 26, KPD arrested Sandy’s former husband Darren Galas, 40, of Kalaheo, at the Koloa Big Save and charged him with second-degree murder. Remarried, he was working for the county Water Department.

He was indicted in court last Wednesday, and Prosecutor Shaylene IseriCarvalho said on the record there is new evidence in the case.

If convicted, he faces life in prison with the possibility for prole.

Kudos to all those involved in dusting off the files and getting this case into a courtroom.

For those who don’t know, in 2006 Galas’ estranged wife Sandra, mother of two young boys (then 3 and 5), was found dead in her car parked inside the garage of her ‘Ele’ele home. Her father has worked tirelessly to keep the case alive, and in 2007 partnered with the YWCA Kaua’i and Dennis Mendonca (Darren’s cousin) and Susan Cabral, to begin hosting the annual Never Forget Sandy G Golf Tournament. Money raised from the events was used to help abused women and children.

Sandy G’s parents with her photo

According to a prepared statement by the County, in 2011 the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and KPD began an intensive and collaborative effort to utilize the latest investigative techniques and technology to solve Sandra’s murder. (And for what it’s worth, when MidWeek editor Don Chapman and I called on KPD Chief Darryl Perry in August of last year, he said then that they were getting closer to an arrest.)

“While we still have a long way to go in the adjudication process, I would like to thank the investigators for their perseverance, the Prosecutor’s Office for their detail assistance, and Sandy’s family and friends for their patience and trust in KPD,” Chief Perry said. “We’re happy to see this case move forward, and we’ll continue to support Sandy’s family throughout this process.”

Galas is currently in custody with bail set at $1 million. His trial is not yet calendared as of this writing…

In other news and notes: Congratulations to The Beach House Restaurant, which recently received its “TAG-approved” certification, awarded to entities that enforce non-discriminatory policies and treat heterosexual and domestic partners equally in personnel policies, as well as employing staff that reflects the diversity of their community. The designation is fitting as the restaurant is one to offer oceanfront civil union and commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples. For more information, contact director of sales and special events Nicole Freeland at nicole@the-beach-house.com or call 742-1424…

A special mahalo to the volunteers who showed their aloha at Mahelona Hospital and turned out to show support of patients at the Music for Memory concert and movie last month: Colleen McCracken, Helen Nishimura, Sharla Hasegawa, Edward Godnig, Melody Pasqual, Hannah Yoshida, Joyce Gushiken, Betty Matsumura, Madeleine Godnig, and Doug and Sandy McMaster, among others. The team effort of the non-profit organizations of Mahelona Hospital Auxiliary, Mahelona Employees Association, and the Slack Key Music Center put on the event and raised more than $1,500 for patient programs.

Mahelona volunteers: Colleen McCracken, Helen Nishimura, Sharla Hasegawa, Edward Godnig, Melody Pasqual, Hannah Yoshida, Joyce Gushiken, Betty Matsumura, Madeleine Godnig, Doug and Sandy McMaster

The Music for Memory program helps patients with memory problems from such afflictions as dementia, injuries, and amnesia via personalized playlists on iPods, as music can animate people with Parkinson’s disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer’s or amnesia.

For more information about the Mahelona Hospital Auxiliary, its programs, and how you can help, call 823-4162…

Elizabeth Freeman, organizer of the annual Festival of Lights, has put out a call for recycled aluminum cans that will be used to create new ornaments for a 9-foot tall tree called “If Can, Can” Tree that will be part of this year’s festival. About 200 colorful cans are needed for the project. All cans should be empty and not crushed.

“We’re looking for all the different colors of the Hawaiian Sun and Aloha Maid juice cans, bright red Coke cans, energy drink cans, green ginger ale cans, as well as Arizona Green Tea cans,” Freeman says. “If an aluminum can is bright and colorful, we want it!”

Volunteer artisans will begin working on the ornaments in early November, so Freeman is hoping to collect the cans by Nov. 7. Drop-offs can be made at the County Recycling Office located at the Lihue Civic Center, Moikeha Building, Suite 295. The opening ceremony for the 2012 Festival of Lights will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7 at the Historic County Building.

The festival will run every weekend through Monday, Dec. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. Anyone with questions can call 241-4841…