SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) – Santa Cruz city officials Wednesday expressed grief over the murder of a local attorney in Hawaii last week.
Celestial Cassman, 35, of Santa Cruz, died Thursday while on vacation in Maui, the city attorney’s office said Wednesday.
She worked for the law firm Atchison, Barisone, Condotti and Kovacevich, which provides services to several local cities including Santa Cruz.
“As a beloved and integral member of our firm, and more importantly a dear friend, she will be missed by all of us,” Santa Cruz City Attorney John Barisone stated.
At about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Maui police responded to a report of a domestic dispute on Kahekili Highway near Nakalele Point, according to Lt. Wayne Ibarra.
Officers found a man there, and when they went to talk to him, he jumped off a cliff and into the ocean, Ibarra said. An hour later, officers found the body of a woman, later identified as Cassman.
The man was located and picked up by rescuers Friday morning at Nakalele Point. He was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center and is expected to survive his injuries.
Maui County prosecutor John Kim identified the man as Gerald Galaway, Jr., 38, of Santa Cruz. He said prosecutors have charged Galaway with one count of second-degree murder and one count of kidnapping in connection with Cassman’s death.
Galaway is still recovering from his injuries at the hospital, but he will be booked into jail on $500,000 bail, Kim said.
Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty said he was “incredibly sad” to hear the news about Cassman, whom he considers a friend as well as a colleague.
“We’re shocked and we’re extremely saddened by her death,” Coonerty said. “She was a tremendous person, had a real joy for life and was an excellent attorney for the city.”
Coonerty said he is waiting to hear from Cassman’s family regarding a memorial service.
Cassman is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz and UC Davis’ King Hall School of Law.
She served on the board of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Cruz County, or CASA. The website for CASA states that Cassman was born Hawaii and grew up in Lake County.
Her hobbies included wine tasting, yoga, cooking and learning to surf, according to the site.
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