‘Kai the Hitchhiker,’ once hailed a hero for slashing man with hatchet to save assault victim, is accused of beating lawyer to death: Reports

A man who once used a hatchet to save a woman being attacked in California is facing murder charges in an unrelated incident. His trial started Tuesday morning in Union County, New Jersey.

News 12 reports that Caleb McGillivray, better known as “Kai,” is accused of the May 12, 2013, killing of 73-year-old lawyer Joseph Galfy. Authorities found the victim beaten to death inside his Clark, New Jersey, home, a day after McGillivray spent the night. McGillivray, a hitchhiker who roamed to several different states, was arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks a few days after Galfy’s death.

The pair met randomly, according to police. Shortly after meeting, they went back to Galfy’s home, where a reported sexual incident turned fatally violent.

McGillivray claimed that the elderly attorney drugged him and tried to sexually assault him. He reportedly said he woke up half naked and fought Galfy off of him, then fled. When police found McGillivray, who had chopped off his long hair after the incident, he said he had no idea the victim had died.

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“What would you do if you woke up with a groggy head, metallic taste in your mouth, in a strangers house . . . and started wretching, realizing that someone had drugged, raped . . . you?” McGillivray said in a now-deleted Facebook post, according to the New York Post.

McGillivary pleaded innocent to the accusation and has been behind bars since his arrest. While in jail, he filed numerous motions against the police. He alleged authorities violated his rights and destroyed evidence in the victim’s house that would have proved a sexual assault took place.

Caleb “Kai” McGillvary, 24, talks to the media as he is taken by Union County sheriff’s officers to jail in Elizabeth, N.J., Thursday, May 30, 2013. McGillvary is charged with beating 73-year-old lawyer Joseph Galfy to death after they met in New York City. Galfy’s body was found in his Clark, N.J., home. McGillvary, who gained Internet fame as “Kai, the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker,” says he’s not guilty of the murder charge. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Kai the Hitchhiker’s Rise to Fame

A few months before Galfy’s death, McGillivray spoke to a KMPH California news reporter after he took a hatchet to Jett McBride, a man he hitched a ride from in Fresno. While McGillivray was still in the car with him, McBride reportedly rammed his Oldsmobile into a utility worker, Rayshawn Neely, according to ABC.

McGillivary said the man identified himself as “Jesus” and tried to assault a woman who rushed to help Neeley. At that point, McGillivary got out of the car, pulled a hatchet out of his backpack and began slashing McBride in the back.

“I fu—-’ ran up behind him with a hatchet. Smash! Smash! Smash! It was fu—-‘ gnarly man. It was like the biggest wave I’ve ever ridden.”

McBride was later acquitted from an attempted murder charge. McBride claimed in court that a “hitchhiker [McGillivary]” grabbed the steering wheel and forced him to drive toward the victim.

Other crew members, however, said they saw McBride aim straight for Neeley by his own will. Witnesses agreed and said the man driving the vehicle claimed he was “Jesus Christ” while screaming racial slurs, as he slammed into Neeley, a black man.

**WARNING**: Video contains graphic language

Regardless, the “Kai video” quickly gained more than a million views and landed McGillivray on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” where he recounted his experience.

McGillivray has thousands of fans who’ve stuck by him through the ordeal and who believe he’s innocent. Facebook page “Kai the Hitchhiker Legal Support,” has over 17,000 group members, who are fighting to get him released from jail.

Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

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[Feature Photo: Caleb McGillivray via AP/Mel Evans]