The tragic 2006 murder of Hawaii native Sandra Galas traumatized her family and left the police puzzled as to who could kill her so mercilessly. Though the case went cold, the constant efforts of the investigators soon yielded results and led them to Darren Galas, her former husband. NBC’s ‘Dateline: The Other Side of Paradise’ delves into how Sandra’s family fought for almost a decade to seek justice for her and how evidence against the killer was tricky to collect. Now, if you wish to learn more about Darren’s involvement in the murder and his current whereabouts, we have you covered.
Who is Darren Galas?
Kauai resident Sandra Mendonca met highway construction worker Darren Galas when she came home from college in New York. They fell in love and tied the knot in 1999, eventually having two sons. After the couple separated in 2005, they shared custody of their children, Austin and Brayden. However, tragedy befell the family when 27-year-old Sandra was beaten and strangled to death in her home’s garage on January 25, 2006. At the time of her demise, she was in a relationship with Ryan Shinjo, and it was he who discovered her body.
While looking for possible leads, the police soon discovered that Sandra had apparently split from Darren after becoming aware of his infidelity. Thus, the victim’s estranged husband was brought for questioning; he claimed that Sandra was scheduled to pick up their sons from his house on January 25, but she never showed up. Finding his alibi a bit suspicious, the police searched his home for evidence, the lack of which resulted in them letting him go. Besides, he also got custody of his and Sandra’s sons and eventually married his girlfriend, Cherene.
Unfortunately, the investigation went cold for two years until forensic analysts found Darren’s DNA traces on the clothes on the victim’s body. Nevertheless, it could not be considered reason enough to implicate him, as he and Sandra were still not officially divorced when she died. After four more years of hits and misses, a new investigator took over the case and discovered written correspondence between the victim and her divorce attorney. In it, she stated that she was afraid of her husband, indicating that he had allegedly been harassing her.
Eventually, the detectives found the most crucial evidence that helped solve the case. Darren used to maintain a calendar where he would make detailed notes of the instances when Sandra’s behavior upset him. This included whenever she was late to pick up their sons, and he would almost daily make an entry about something or the other. Hence, it was surprising when the police noticed that despite Sandra not arriving to pick up the boys on the day she died, there were no notes on the calendar.
Where is Darren Galas Today?
The missing entry from the day of the murder was enough for the detectives to believe that Darren had killed his estranged wife. He was indicted for second-degree murder in October 2012 but remained free on bail for the next few years. Meanwhile, the police questioned Sandra’s boyfriend, Ryan, who had been their second suspect in the murder. After being released from prison for drug-related charges, he testified that he had witnessed Darren being violent to Sandra.
As Darren prepared to go to trial, he suddenly accepted a plea deal in January 2018. Per its terms, he pled no contest to first-degree assault inflicting serious bodily harm. While this upset Sandra’s family, they believed it was best if the case avoided trial, as Darren could walk free due to a lack of evidence. In June 2018, he was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years behind bars, with a minimum term of 8.5 years. Unfortunately, the minimum time was reduced by six months in March 2022, and now his minimum release date is May 2, 2026. Darren’s maximum release date is May 1, 2028, and he is currently serving his sentence in prison.
Read More: Larry and Toshie Mendonca: Where Are Sandra Galas’ Parents Now?