Estranged husband pleads no contest in connection with wife’s 2006 death

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The estranged husband of a Kauai woman will be sentenced to prison 12 years after her murder.

Darren Galas, 46, pleaded no contest Monday to a lesser charge of first-degree assault in connection with the 2006 death of Sandra Galas.

She was found strangled in her car, which was parked in the garage of her Eleele home.

In October 2012, following an exhaustive police investigation, Darren Galas was charged with murder.

He will be sentenced on May 30 and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Sandra Galas’ brother, Lawrence Mendonca Jr., says this isn’t exactly the outcome the family wanted.

“We were hoping we’d get a guilty plea, but we ended up with a no-contest plea,” Mendonca said. “The sentencing date was a lot later than we were hoping, things like that. I mean, we’ve been waiting 12 years for justice, and we’re just being forced to wait a little longer.”

The case was handled by a special cold case unit that was formed in 2012 with the help of federal funding.

Kauai Police Department Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce of the Investigative Services Bureau said in a statement:

“Sandra Galas’s case was one of the highest priority cases of the cold case unit upon its establishment. This specialized cold case unit was able to apply new analysis and advanced training to the information and evidence that was already collected by previous investigators. Furthermore, during this time, evidence was identified for further testing. While this further testing was not utilized in the 2012 arrest, it was anticipated as being necessary for successful prosecution. The Sandra Galas case is the only cold case resulting in an arrest thus far. The cold case unit was established under federal grant funding, however, we still actively pursue cold cases to this day.”

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