From an internet sensation to convicted murderer, ‘Kai the Hitchhiker’

Looks like “Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker” will spend a long time behind bars.

A New Jersey state appellate court has denied the appeal of the murder conviction of Caleb McGillvary, who’s better known as “Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” the man who almost instantly became internet famous after he hitchhiked in Fresno and provided an animated television interview nine years ago.

McGillvary was trying to overturn a court’s decision from 2019 when he was found guilty of first-degree murder of a 74-year-old man and sentenced to 57 years in prison.

McGillvary, 32, will not be eligible for parole until October 2061, when he will be 73 years old.

Two appellate judges found little merit with any of McGillvary’s arguments why his conviction should be overturned, according to

Among the arguments filed by himself in his official appeal, McGillvary said he wanted a “real” lawyer and that the trial should have been moved out of Union County, where the victim, Joseph Galfy was a former law partner of the presiding criminal judge in the county.

McGillvary also stated that the judge who oversaw his conviction trial, Robert Kirsch, made errors and treated him “disrespectfully” during the trial.

“The record does not suggest a miscarriage of justice occurred,” the appeals judges wrote in their 36-page decision. “The jury assessed defendant’s testimony and proffered defenses and rejected them.”

McGillvary, who is from Canada, became an internet sensation in 2012 and even appeared as a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show following a bizarre incident that occurred in Fresno.

McGillvary had hitchhiked with a man who suddenly decided to try to run over a PG&E worker on the side of the road and tried to attack two women who had rushed to the worker’s aid.

But McGillvary intervened, using a hatchet to “smash, smash, smash” the back of the attacker’s head.

The strange encounter along with McGillvary’s animated television interview as he described what happened soon after went viral.

And the nickname “Kai the hatch-wielding hitchhiker” was born.

Eventually, McGillvary had made his way across the country in 2013, being offered food and places to stay by people who knew him from the internet before ending up in New York City, mycentraljersey. com reported.

There, he met Galfy in Times Square and was invited back to the lawyer’s home in New Jersey.

McGillvary testified at the trial Galfy tried to sexually assault him and that he attacked back in self defense.

“I was trying to get him away from me,” McGillvary testified. “That’s all I can remember.”

Days later, McGillvary was arrested at a bus terminal in Philadelphia.

At the trial, a medical examiner testified that Galfy “who stood 5-foot-5, weight 230 pounds and had a stent in his chest due to a heart condition” sustained numerous blunt-force injuries to his face, head, neck, chest and arms, including three skull fractures, four broken ribs and severe contusions and bleeding.

The presiding judge in McGillvary’s murder trial had stern words for the defendant during sentencing:

“You are crafty, you are cunning, you are disingenuous, and you are manipulative,” Kirsch told McGillvary at the sentencing according to “And when you become eligible for parole, you will still be younger than Mr. Galfy was when you murdered him.”

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