Caleb McGillvary, better known as Kai the hitchhiker, spent nearly five long years in solitary confinement at the Union County Jail while awaiting trial. Twenty-three hours a day, seven days a week, in segregation—what is considered to be “cruel and unusual punishment.” That is of course a gross violation of constitutional rights, not unlike the inherent violation of the sixth amendment right to a speedy and fair trial that Kai was subjected to.
It all began with two fateful rides, only weeks apart. The first would catapult him to fame and epic hero status, the second, would plummet him into the depths of a nightmare that continues to this day. Kai gained viral fame with a ride he thumbed that resulted in him saving the lives of a utility worker and a woman in the Fresno, California in 2013. His emotional and heartfelt message catapulted him to viral fame. His ‘catchphrase’ of “Smash, smash, suh-MASH!” resulted in him being invited on the Jimmy Kimmel show as well as on an episode of Stephen Colbert’s show, among others.
It all changed in an instant, shortly after Kai shared the following status on his Facebook account:
“What would you do if you woke up with a groggy head, metallic taste in your mouth, in a stranger’s house . . . and started wretching [sic], realizing that someone had drugged, raped . . . you?” This was one of the last posts beloved viral star Kai the Hitchhiker made to social media before his arrest. From viral fame after being interviewed shortly after saving the lives of a man and woman, Kai’s rising star seemed to be crashing quickly. Not long after that though, the nightmare would begin, a nightmare that continues to this day.
Kai alleges he was drugged and raped, evidence available suggests he was then subjected to a sloppy frame-up job. After the ‘investigation,’ he was then detained without trial and held in solitary for years. When the trial finally came, in keeping with the investigation and detention, it could be characterized as nothing less than a massive miscarriage of justice in which the defense seemed to work on behalf of the prosecution.
Major conflicts of interest abound in the case. Officials of the court who should have recused themselves among others. Eventually, one judge assigned to the case would step down rather than recuse himself when it was pointed out that he was connected personally to the alleged rapist lawyer, Joseph Galfy. The prosecutor, Theodore Romankow also “resigned” after 11 years when his friendship with the deceased was disclosed. Incidentally or coincidentally, he “call[ed] it quits” on the same date Kai’s arrest was announced.
The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported the following:
“In court, McGillvary told Superior Court Judge Joseph Donohue last month that Robert Mega, Union County’s presiding Criminal Court judge, had the phone number for the victim’s son, Joseph Galfy III Jr., saved as contact no. 18. He later learned that Mega was listed in Galfy’s cell phone from the evidence that the prosecutor’s office provided to Liguori.
Donohue said Mega has recused himself from the case, but he understood the defendant’s concern about the other judges.”
Oh dear, not another conflict of interest! This is starting to look like a pattern. Not unlike the pattern of abuse inherent in the New Jersey penal system and specifically the Union County jail and Juvenile Detention Center which have been responsible for multiple deaths and an environment of sadism that is beyond the pale.
There are numerous issues with the investigation, detention, and trial of Kai. Kai accused the proceedings of being a kangaroo court and sham trial. Many media sources portray his claims as unhinged and conspiratorial but what is to be done about the fact that evidence supports many of his claims?
In the Gardner and Suter investigative report, it was noted that the dishwasher had been run between May 13 and 15th, while the home of Joseph Galfy, the wealthy lawyer and accused predator, was an active crime scene. Also, Galfy was found with his own semen and unidentified blood on his penis. Kai was denied a rape kit, but they ran one on the deceased. The cups that were said to be drugged were washed by investigators; but a tox screen was ordered on Galfy’s body. The tox screen and rape kit were both negative, but they were done on the wrong person. So at this point, the prosecution can claim that “a rape kit was run” and that “tox screens were inconclusive.” That certainly would seem to make Kai out to be a liar had this not been the result of a brazen bait-and-switch.
Why would a dishwasher be run in a house subject to an ongoing investigation about an alleged murder and/or rape? And to explain the “and/or” in New Jersey, lethal force is authorized in the case of sexual assault so accidentally killing someone who is raping you in the state is not even manslaughter. Now if the evidence of Kai being drugged and raped hadn’t been destroyed (‘spoliation of exculpatory evidence,’ in legalese) then this would be an open-and-shut case. If the public defender was more interested in defending Kai rather than playing ball with the Union County system, then perhaps there would have already been a more favorable dispensation.
Oh, and who was allowed in the house around the time that this mysterious dishwasher incident occurred? None other than former local chief of police and brother of the deceased, James Galfy. James Galfy, according to investigative documents released in discovery, note his concern that a “drifter” was involved when he was told his brother was dead. Apparently not the first such case of a “vagrant” being involved in Galfy’s life.
Read the rest at City University of New York’s graduate program newspaper The Advocate.