The 30-year-old man charged with murder in the brutal beating death of a Bangor musician in 2018 pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Donald Galleck, who was scheduled to be tried in March, was charged 14 months ago with depraved indifference murder and intentional or knowing murder in the death of Jason Moody, 40.
Galleck accidentally broadcast the incident over his cellphone on Facebook Messenger to a female friend, that friend told police. It was not saved or downloaded, however, so it could not be presented to a jury as evidence. Because of that, the woman who claimed she viewed the slaying live could not be called to testify about what she saw, according to Galleck’s defense team.
His plea agreement calls for a recommended sentence of eight years in prison and restitution of nearly $2,400 to Maine’s Victim Compensation Fund for funeral expenses.
A sentencing date has not been set but is expected to be the last week of February, the judge said
Galleck entered an Alford plea, admitting that the prosecution could prove he is guilty of manslaughter but disagreeing with the facts of the case that would have been presented at a trial.
Defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor said after Thursday’s hearing that he and co-counsel Wendy Hatch of Waterville would have presented a case of self-defense because Galleck claimed that Moody threw the first punch. The team also planned to call a medical expert who would testify that Moody died of an undiagnosed brain aneurysm.
Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, who is prosecuting the case, told Superior Court Justice Ann Murray that there were “evidentiary issues with the case that could have resulted in a less than satisfactory outcome” had it been presented to a jury.
Macomber also said that Moody’s family was not happy with the agreement and would speak to that at Galleck’s sentencing.
Robert Kearns, who created the Facebook page Justice for Jason Moody, said after the hearing that he and Moody’s other friends are upset over the prosecutor’s decision not to try Galleck for murder and the agreed-upon sentence of eight years.
“Jason was helping Galleck find a place to stay, and he lost his life for that?” Kearns, 50, of Bangor said. “This really sends a message that if you’ve got a problem with someone — have you got eight years to spare?”
If a jury convicted Galleck on the manslaughter charge, he would face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. If he had been convicted of murder, Galleck would have faced between 25 years and life behind bars.
The investigation that led to Galleck’s arrest began Nov. 11, 2018, when Moody was found unconscious at about 10:40 p.m. after Bangor police responded to a report of an injured man at the intersection of Center and Cumberland streets.
Moody was taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, where he died from his injuries on Nov. 13, 2018.
Galleck got into a confrontation with Moody after he was asked to leave Moody’s Willow Street apartment because Galleck was fighting with his girlfriend, Macomber told Murray at the plea hearing. The two men left Moody’s apartment and went to an apartment on Curve Street where Galleck hoped to spend the night, but no one was home.
Sometime after that, as Galleck and Moody left the Curve Street apartment.
Galleck called a friend using the Facebook Messenger app on his phone while Moody walked behind him, Macomber told the judge. A few minutes later, the woman received and accepted a video chat request from Galleck that Galleck had sent accidentally.
Soon after, Galleck unintentionally broadcast himself killing Moody over Facebook video live while his phone was in his shirt pocket, the woman told police. The woman told police that Galleck struck Moody at least twice before knocking him to the ground and bashing his head off the ground. She later retracted that statement and said she did not see exactly what happened, Macomber said Thursday.
Bangor police located Galleck on Nov. 16, 2018, hiding in a Fifth Street apartment. He refused to speak with detectives about his interaction with Moody and requested to speak with defense attorney Wendy Hatch of Waterville, who had represented him in the past.
The medical examiner concluded Nov. 14, 2018, that the cause of Moody’s death was “massive inflicted trauma to the brain,” according to the affidavit. Moody’s death was ruled a homicide.
Family and friends remembered Moody as a talented musician, a diehard metalhead, and a devoted and caring friend.