Bond reduction denied for suspect in cold case murder of newlywed

Crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A motion filed by defense attorneys to have the bond reduced for the Austin man arrested in connection to the 1979 cold case murder of a newlywed woman was denied by Judge Brad Urrutia. 

The bond reduction hearing for Michael Anthony Galvan, 64, was held Tuesday afternoon in the 450th Criminal District Court in Travis County. 

Debra Sue Reiding was 18 years old when she was found dead in her apartment on Algarita Avenue in south Austin on Jan. 22, 1979. 

Galvan’s defense attorneys called the defendant’s girlfriend, Wendy Radcliffe, to testify on his behalf. She said that even after learning he was a suspect in Reiding’s murder in 2017, the Austin barber continued to work in the city and was never a flight risk. 

“[He] continued to run his business. He came and stayed with me. I just think he was more comfortable at my home at that time,” said Radcliffe. 

She also testified about his poor health.

“Arthritis and difficulties with his knees and back, and neck. His neck has been broken. I actually stated that in my interview with the police,” she added. 

Galvan’s defense attorney, Amber Vazquez echoed Radcliffe’s testimony. 

“He is 64 years old with asthma and arthritis and everything else, and the county jail is ill-equipped to meet his medical needs. Justice would be better-served to have him on whatever conditions the court saw fit for community release,” added Vazquez. “We still don’t have anything that proves he killed anybody.”

The prosecution, however, largely disagreed and so does the Austin Police Department. 

“Based on the egregious nature of the offense, in order to protect our community, and to make sure that he’s here when we do try him, the state believes that the amount of bond is reasonable,” said assistant district attorney for Travis County Keith Henneke. 

Henneke said that because Galvan moved in with Radcliffe shortly after APD took his DNA for testing, Galvan may leave Austin, if granted a lower bond amount. 

“Being able to speculate or tell what he’s capable of, or fleeing, I don’t have that power. So, right now, we do know where he is and where he will be up until the trial and that’ll be in jail,” explained Detective Jeff Gabler, with APD’s cold case unit. “You never know what a person’s mindset is. We can’t get into his mind.” 

Gabler says this case comes down to DNA evidence: Galvan’s DNA that was found on Reiding’s robe at the time of her death.

“Based on some of Mr. Galvan’s initial statements to police and then his statements to us, there really was no reason for his DNA to be where it was and in the fashion it was,” Gabler said. 

In the end, Judge Urrutia sided with the state. He said, “The nature of the charge and the potential sentence involved in the case will prevent me, in this case, from granting a personal bond, regardless of the conditions.” 

On May 24, 2018, a Travis County grand jury indicted Galvan on one count of capital murder and one count of murder in Reiding’s death.

The cold case was reopened in 2013. 

After filing a search warrant at the beginning of August 2017, cold case detectives tested Galvan’s DNA against semen stains found on a robe Reiding was wearing at the time of her death. 

Galvan remains booked into the Travis County Jail with bond set at $750,000. 

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