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.
Why would James Galfy immediately assume his wealthy lawyer brother would have a “drifter” in his home the night he died? In another interview with a witness who saw Kai, he was described as looking “glassy-eyed” and drugged after the incident. The audio of Kai’s interrogation has him emitting an audible sigh when he discovers that the man he accuses of drugging and assaulting him is dead.
On top of this is the expert doctor Robert Pandina who refused to run the rape kit. Pandina claims he did not know Galfy. This strikes me as odd considering, as per a document from the Prosecutor’s Office, Pandina “unexpectedly received charitable funds from the Estate of Joseph Galfy.” Well, what an unexpected turn of events, but who among us hasn’t received a windfall from deceased persons after acting as an expert witness in trials involving them?
Refusing proper services and processing for a victim of sexual assault is a crime in New Jersey. The prosecutor broke several laws: for one, undermining the New Jersey Attorney General Standards for providing services to victims of sexual assault (NJSA 45:9-18) by pretending Robert Pandina was a medical doctor capable of examining a survivor of sexual assault. In pages 91-93 of the grand jury testimony, the prosecutor attempts to pass off Professor Robert Pandina as not only a medical doctor but an expert doctor at that.
Unfortunately, Kai’s motion to dismiss could not be heard with his own public defender fighting him all the way. The stakes are incredibly high, not only for Kai but for Union County and the state of New Jersey. The Federal civil suit itself will be a slam dunk, that is, if Kai is exonerated. Until then the case is in limbo as it can’t be heard while he is incarcerated.
If Kai wasn’t raped, then why are there signs of rape in this case? New Jersey law states “sexual assault is a form of serious bodily injury, the threat of which would justify the use of deadly force in self-defense,” N.J.S.A. 2c:3-4. Mismanagement of evidence, evidence of sexual assault, conflicts of interest (the alleged rapist’s friendship with the county prosecutor, for instance).
In my original article about this case for Inquisitr, I note that the case was “eerily reminiscent of the Cleveland Street Scandal from London in the 1890s.” In that case a high-profile pedophile ring that reached as far as the court of Queen Victoria was covered up for decades. During the Oscar Wilde trial, Wilde was surrounded by predators who were tied to the Cleveland Street case. I had no idea how prescient that statement could have been at the time.
In this case, no nobles or royals are/were being implicated, but Kai discovered through use of the law library in prison that a 30+ year tradition in New Jersey of sex criminals, including child sex criminals being given a slap on the wrist consisting of 6 months probation, therapy and a 6 month suspension from practicing law in many or most cases. In all but one of the nearly two dozen cases, I’ve seen a complete media blackout despite those involved not just being lawyers, but politicians, legislators, District Attorneys, and Assistant Attorney Generals.
In one case, a sexual predator judge who assaulted women by coercing sex from them in exchange for lessened sentences comes up. This same Judge Boylan’s son was previously charged with molesting a 5-year-old girl. Neither shows up in state or federal sex offender registries and disciplinary bar reports and a lawsuit are the only extant paper trail.
I’ve been in touch with Kai for a few years now and have written multiple articles, conducted several interviews, and kept contact by correspondence. The massive number of issues in the case precludes the possibility of covering each issue in anything less than several hours, but it’s possible, in a few pages, to at least scratch the surface of the basic overview of this massive miscarriage of justice.
The reversal of the phrase ‘innocent before proven guilty’ to ‘guilty before proven innocent’ didn’t start on April 23, 2019, at the murder trial of Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker. Rather, this inverted maxim has always been understood by those at the top and at the bottom of the American legal system. But on April 23rd, 2019, in Elizabeth New Jersey, ‘guilty before innocent’ became the official maxim of law and order in America.
An eyewitness at this trial states that defense counsel, John G. Cito, Esq. stood askance from the jury, looking slyly sideways at them; under other circumstances, he might have been telling them a secret. In a quiet, bland way, Cito said: “Now, I’m going to go over some of the stuff that the State’s going to say well.” As he faced the Jury, his face contorted and his voice vehement with rage, Cito pointed accusingly at Kai. “That shows my client is full of crap,” he continued. “He did this intentionally. He purposefully ran out of the house.” One may be forgiven for thinking that Cito was working for opposing counsel rather than for Kai’s defense. The moment was cinematic; all it lacked were cameras. Judge Robert Kirsch had banned all video reportage of Kai’s trial on March 21st, two weeks before it began.
Cito’s strange remarks to the jury were not the first indication during this trial where video documentation would have shown the public that something was amiss. On April 16th, 2019, Union County Prosecutor’s Office Sgt. Johnny Ho was on the witness stand. A video was about to be played on a large screen for the Jury. Judge Kirsch stepped down from his bench and walked to the gallery to sit near the jurors, saying “Dim the lights, folks. I’m going to move so I can see the screen closer.” Keep in mind that the record shows what you have just read above when presented with Judge Kirsch’s statements about witnessing what happened next ‘from his perch on the bench.’ To put this in context, Kai claimed that the Sheriff’s officers behind him began to laugh derisively in front of the Jury as soon as the video reached the part where Kai described waking up to find Mr. Galfy, the man he is accused of murdering, sexually assaulting him. Judge Kirsh, however, denies this, stating:
“I categorically reject that two Sheriff’s officers ‘laughed’ during his testimony regarding his claimed sexual assault by Mr. Galfy, and that this alleged conduct somehow may have influenced the jury … I was in the courtroom the whole time, watching Mr. McGillvary and the Sheriff’s officers from my perch on the bench.”
It seems obvious that Kirsch was not on his “perch on the bench.” How could he have been, after he had evidently “moved to see the screen closer?” Kai subsequently requested a review of the courtroom security video footage; such a review, of course, would show Judge Kirsch’s blatant falsehood for the lie that it was. This request was refused by none other than Judge Kirsch, of course. To quote Hizzoner from an earlier ruling during Kai’s case, “I know they have security cameras in here and they’re being viewed as we speak … but there’s no basis for me to do so and I’m not doing it.” Kirsch stated this in response to Kai’s earlier request to review courtroom surveillance after Prosecutor Scott Peterson altered the position of a laser pointer indicating the injuries on Mr. Galfy’s chest x-ray. You might well wonder why it would matter to a jury where the victim’s injuries were precisely located; after all, a man was dead, wasn’t he? Wasn’t that the point? Consider that Mr. Galfy was found face down on the floor and that Kai said he woke up underneath him. The fatal injuries were on the center of Mr. Galfy’s chest, unreachable from anywhere but underneath him. This corroborates Kai’s testimony. Mr. Peterson, however, moved the laser to the side during his testimony, deceiving the Jury into thinking that Kai had been standing up and kicking Mr. Galfy in the side.
What happened is this: Kai kicked upwards at Mr. Galfy while lying on his back. This is important to the veracity of Kai’s defense, which follows thusly:
1.) Mr. Galfy slipped drugs into Kai’s beer, causing him to lose consciousness.
2.) Kai woke on the floor underneath him.
3.) Mr. Galfy died due to Kai’s legal forcible self-defense. The law in New Jersey states that you can use deadly force to defend against a sexual assault.
Common sense would suggest that a pill bottle full of GHB found in Mr. Galfy’s fridge would be fairly convincing evidence in Kai’s favor, as would GHB residue in a glass, as would GHB metabolites found in the urine involuntarily excreted by Kai upon his coming to. All this evidence together would clearly corroborate Kai’s statement that Mr. Galfy drugged him and would convince almost any jury that Kai used legal force in self-defense. Yet Judge Kirsch ridicules such common sense, as evidenced by the following excerpt from the courtroom transcript:
MR. CITO: I think we talked about the glassware in the sink itself, not the dishwasher. I believe the glassware should have been collected. The last thing is the carpet or the carpet fibers. That whole area should have either been cut out or, at least, preserved or the fibers preserved to determine the combination of whose DNA was in the fluid, was it blood, was it urine, was it semen and that would have, at least, confirmed what type of assault or what actually occurred, especially if there was semen in the carpeting. Also, if there was urine in the carpeting, that would determine that it was my client’s and it would have confirmed his position that he did urinate at the time and that Mr. Galfy had ejaculated in that area. My client is also noting that it could also be tested for drugs, but I am not sure how you can test fibers for drugs.
THE COURT: Thank you very much, Mr. Cito.
THE DEFENDANT: The pill bottles.
MR. CITO: I know we went over the pill bottles in the fridge, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Sure.
MR. CITO: The pill bottles in the fridge, they were never opened, and it was never determined what actually was in the pill bottles; that determination should have been made. It could have been one of the illicit drugs.
THE COURT: I mean, by that argument, honestly, shouldn’t the State then be required to bring in canines to scour the entire premises? Maybe there is a pill box – – I am being semi-facetious, but not really. Maybe there is a hidden compartment in the home which would warehouse supposed drugs, rape drugs. At what point does common sense indicate—
Sometimes common sense is exactly what jurors are required to suspend to follow the instructions of the judge. For example, we all know that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The Burden of Proof is supposed to be on the prosecutor to prove the guilt or innocence of the defendant. However, a special loophole exists in New Jersey; if the defense asserts an Involuntary Intoxication Jury Charge (known as 2C:2-8(D)), the Burden of Proof shifts from the accuser to the accused.
MR. CITO: I wanted to put in something my client requests which I am differing from. He wants me to not present to the Jury the defense of involuntary intoxication.
THE COURT: On what grounds?
For Kai, the maxim of ‘innocent before proven guilty’ became ‘guilty before proven innocent.’ Kai had asked Mr. Cito to not include that jury instruction because Judge Kirsch ruled that the jurors weren’t allowed to infer evidence of date rape drugs from the pill bottles, glasses, or carpet stains. The Jury, then, were therefore instructed to suspend common sense. Bear in mind, a person can still assert that someone drugged them without asserting the defense of Involuntary Intoxication (2C:2-8(D)). All it means is that the fact of a defendant’s assailant drugging them will not alone result in an acquittal; it only factors into their state of mind. Nevertheless, the presumption created for Judge Kirsch’s defendant on April 23rd, 2019, effectively stated that if Kai couldn’t prove intoxication by clear and convincing evidence, the jury had to assume that he was stone cold sober. The jury must therefore infer his state of mind from that presumption onto all other charges. Conversely, an instruction indicating the Constitutional Burden of Proof would say that unless the prosecutor can prove that Kai was stone cold sober beyond a reasonable doubt, the Jury must assume that Kai was intoxicated even if not to the point of establishing a defense under 2C:2-8(D). The self-defense instruction should have come into play simply because the evidence of drugs was destroyed. With just the self-defense charge, the burden to prove whether Mr. Galfy drugged Kai would have remained on the Prosecutor, not Kai. This is key; Kai’s defense of self-defense hinges upon the fact of his intoxication; so much so that a reasonable jury could find their decision formulaically simple. If Kai was intoxicated by date rape drugs, then Kai acted in self-defense against a sexual assault. If Kai was not intoxicated by date rape drugs, then Kai did not act in self-defense against a sexual assault. But the instruction Mr. Cito and Judge Kirsch included—over Kai’s objection— reads, word for word: “The Defendant must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he was intoxicated.”
“It’s important to point out how manifestly unjust it was to admit that any evidence of drugs was lost and destroyed, but in the next breath to belabor me with the burden of proving the existence of drugs, by clear and convincing evidence. That’s the equivalent of saying … we cut off your legs, but if you don’t run a mile, we will end your life.”
To this day, Kai deals with friction involving multiple public defenders who refuse to allow him to move forward with motions for dismissal, change of venue, or citing other glaring issues throughout. One public defender who refused to allow Kai to move forward with his motions, was Peter Liguori. Liguori was one of many who allowed the idea that Kai’s claims of cover up were nothing but wild conspiracy or the last gasp of a guilty man. Liguori did deem a suspected terrorist worthy of a change of venue due to excessive negative media coverage. Abdul Khan Rahimi would be found guilty of a series of bombings in New York and New Jersey. How does this case differ from Kai’s? Apart from the video evidence of culpability of one of the defendants and the evidence of a cover up, obviously the lack of “appropriate zeal” applied in Kai’s case as opposed to Rahimi.
Why would the defense counsel, who is supposedly on Kai’s side, and the Judge, who is supposedly unbiased, show such clear bias in working together against Kai? One explanation might be the fact that Mr. Galfy was a wealthy and prominent attorney in Union County. A further explanation might be the fact that the head judge, the head prosecutor, and the chief of police were all admittedly Mr. Galfy’s personal friends. A final explanation might also be the fact that on April 17, 2019, in front of every Union County judge gathered in the courtroom, Kai stated, “This is a kangaroo court. Why don’t you put on your pointy hats and burn a cross out front; you’re trying to lynch me.”
Whatever the reasons, we are all affected by the officiation of the formerly unofficial guilty until proven innocent doctrine. We’ve all heard this phrase before, whispered in civil rights groups, in groups dedicated to gun control measures or to open carry rights, in left and right-wing groups, in any kind of organization concerned with the rights of people residing in the United States of America: guilty until proven innocent. But to see it in a cold transcript, to hear it shouted from the Judge’s bench, to feel the Judge’s gavel hammering this nail into the coffin of our Constitution is wrong. The American legal system is about providing security to our persons and our property in a fair manner acceptable to our community. Locking people up for six years without trial, destroying the evidence of their innocence (while telling them the only way to prove their innocence is with the destroyed evidence) is unfair.
It is unacceptable. It puts all persons and all properties in danger of being subject to the same treatment, if left unchecked. I love America because we (purportedly) have checks and balances in place to safeguard against the kind of corruption evidenced in April of 2019 in Judge Kirsch’s courtroom from destroying our free society. Even as you read this, Kai has appealed his unjust murder conviction to a higher court. The higher court will challenge the injustices they see, and if that fails us, there is another higher court. Kai is so confident in this that he used his allocution (a short speech at sentencing, usually used to beg for mercy from the judge) to defiantly address every judge in Union County, New Jersey.
THE DEFENDANT: “Despite the bias of the cronies on the bench, I will overturn your false conviction, and your worthless sentence. This has been nothing but a sham trial, and you have railroaded an innocent man. Shame on you.”
During the last nine years since Kai was arrested, many people have rallied around him in support of our Constitution. Kai’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/c/KaitheHitchhikerforreal] has hundreds of videos he’s made in prison; and his Facebook blog [Facebook.com/kai.hitchhiker.blog] has thousands of followers. Supporters have even started a fundraiser for Kai . However, questions remain. Will the Appellate Court overturn Kai’s conviction? Will they move his new trial to a different county? Will they defend our Constitution, our property, our persons? Only time will tell, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill, one thing is for certain: This isn’t the end for Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, but its just beginning somewhere to someone. As horrifying as this single story is, what’s just as frightening is that perhaps the most singular thing about it is that there’s any publicity at all. And it’s not just a Union County thing, or New Jersey thing, Kai is emblematic of a condition, that of systemic rot.