Hitchhiker sentenced to 57 years for beating death of Clark attorney

The Canadian hitchhiker who killed a local attorney in his Clark home a little more than six years ago has been sentenced to 57 years in state prison for the crime, acting Union County Prosecutor Jennifer Davenport announced Thursday.

Caleb “Kai” McGillvary, 30, must serve at least 85 percent of that term before the possibility of parole under the terms set down by presiding state Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch. In April, a Union County jury had convicted McGillvary of first-degree murder in connection with the beating death of 73-year-old Joseph Galfy Jr. following several hours of jury deliberation spread over two days and a four-week trial. 

On Monday, May 13, 2013, Clark Police Department units responded to Galfy’s home on Starlight Drive in Clark to find the victim’s partially clothed body prone beside his bed, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutors Scott Peterson and Jillian Reyes, who prosecuted the case. 

A rapidly unfolding investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force, led by Prosecutor’s Office Sgt. Johnny Ho and assisted by the Union County Sheriff’s Office and Clark Police Department, leveraged voluminous quantities of surveillance footage, digital cell phone data, and other forms of evidence to identify McGillvary as a suspect in the case, Peterson and Reyes said. McGillvary was arrested in Philadelphia several days after the killing when a barista working at a coffee shop there recognized him and contacted police. 

The investigation revealed that the victim and defendant first met in New York City’s Times Square, about a day and a half before Galfy’sdeath. McGillvary claimed self-defense at trial, but Dr. Junaid Shaikh of the Division of the County Medical Examiner testified that the victim, who stood 5-foot-5, weighed 230 pounds, and had a stent in his chest due to a heart condition, sustained numerous serious blunt-force injuries to his face, head, neck, chest, and arms, including multiple fractures to the neck, skull, and ribs, plus severe contusions, abrasions, and bleeding – injuries that contradicted McGillvary’s self-defense claim.

Kirsch read the list of injuries documented in the autopsy report into the record prior to sentencing Thursday, noting that many of the wounds occurred pre-mortem, as there only would have been evidence of them had sufficient blood pressure been present at the time they were inflicted.

“He (Galfy) was helpless, prone on the ground, and in agony,” Kirsch said, calling the crime “a byproduct of unrestrained rage.” 

Despite McGillvary having no substantive prior criminal record, Kirsch found that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors in the case, adding that a “strong and unmistakable message” must be sent by a lengthy prison term. 

“You are crafty, you are cunning, you are disingenuous, and you are manipulative,” Kirsch told McGillvary, describing numerous ways in which the defendant attempted to cover his tracks in the period following the killing, including cutting off his distinctive long hair. “And when you become eligible for parole, you will still be younger than Mr. Galfy was when you murdered him.” 

The victim’s brother read a statement into the record during Thursday’s sentencing hearing, when Peterson also read excerpts from statements written by two of the victim’s nieces. 

One life taken away affects so many other lives down the road,” Peterson said, noting that Galfy’s body was quickly discovered when a friend spotted a newspaper sitting in his driveway, something starkly out of character for the former partner with the Rahway-based law firm of Kochanski, Baron and Galfy, PC, a military veteran who reached the rank of Major while serving in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1970.

“And this defendant shows no remorse, he takes no responsibility,” Peterson added. Everything about him is self-serving.” 

In addition to the aforementioned assisting agencies, the Prosecutor’s Office also again thanks the Philadelphia Police Department, New Jersey Transit Police Department, Delaware River Port Authority Police Department, and the municipal police departments in Cherry Hill and Deptford for their assistance in this investigation.