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Man Accused of Killing Uncle and Dumping Body Near Santa Barbara Pleads Guilty to Murder

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

A Southern California man who allegedly killed his uncle and then dumped the body — before setting it on fire — in the mountains above Santa Barbara in 2011 pleaded guilty to murder charges this week.

Kirk Michael Galvin, 25, of La Palma in Orange County entered the guilty plea on Monday to one felony count of second-degree murder, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

He faces a maximum of 15 years to life in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 23 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

According to prosecutors, Galvin murdered his 53-year-old uncle Douglas Galvin on July 27, 2011, in his father’s La Palma apartment while he was out of town.

Galvin then allegedly drove his uncle’s dead body up to Santa Barbara and dumped it in a remote area off of East Camino Cielo Road, near Painted Cave Road off Highway 154.

In an attempt to destroy the evidence, Galvin allegedly set the body on fire and then fled the scene, according to the DA’s Office.

Three days later, two people out on a walk in the mountains above Santa Barbara found Douglas Galvin’s burned body and contacted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, according to Kelly Hoover, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.

“Our detectives were determined to figure out who the victim was and find out who was responsible for this heinous crime,” Hoover told Noozhawk. “Even after it was determined the victim was missing from the La Palma area, and the case was turned over to La Palma police, our detectives collaborated on the case.” 

Following the investigation, Kirk Galvin was arrested Aug. 5, 2011.

“The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is happy to hear that the Douglas Galvin murder case has come to a successful conclusion,” Hoover said. “This was a cold-blooded murder, and we are pleased that Kirk Galvin will be held accountable for killing his own uncle. 

“It is always a victory when the person who committed a crime is identified and brought to justice. This case is a great example of a successful collaboration, which involved multiple jurisdictions, and we are pleased to have been a part of the effort.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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