A Hot Springs woman who is facing the death penalty for allegedly murdering her 8-year-old daughter and 71-year-old mother in November pleaded not guilty to multiple charges Tuesday in Garland County Circuit Court.
Melissa "Missy" Ann Galey, 46, who has remained in custody on zero bond since her arrest the day of the incident on Nov. 21, appeared before Division 4 Circuit Judge Marcia Hearnsberger and pleaded not guilty to two counts of capital murder, each punishable by the death penalty or life in prison, for the deaths of her daughter, Megan Galey, and mother, Wanda Self. The state has indicated they plan to seek the death penalty.
Galey also pleaded not guilty to a felony count of arson, punishable by up to six years in prison, stemming from allegations she tried to burn down the house she shared with the victims at 2208 Lakeshore Drive.
An affidavit of indigency was filed at Tuesday's hearing and Galey was granted a public defender to represent her. Deputy Public Defender Mark Fraiser appeared on her behalf at the hearing. According to Galey's bail determination form, she had been unemployed for two months prior to her arrest and she supported two children.
A gag order limiting pretrial publicity in the case was issued Tuesday and a hearing to determine the admissibility of statements Galey made to Hot Springs police after her arrest is now set for April 16.
According to the probable cause affidavit, on Nov. 21, at around 7:25 a.m., police responded to the Lakeshore Drive residence to a possible homicide. As they approached the glass front door, officers could see the body of a deceased female child, later identified as Megan Galey, on her back just inside the doorway covered in blood with what appeared to be multiple stab or puncture wounds.
Officers located a second victim, an adult female, later identified as Wanda Self, inside a rear bedroom. She was also on her back, covered in blood, and appeared to have multiple stab or puncture wounds.
As they searched around the residence, officers reportedly located Galey in the backyard coming out from underneath the residence. The affidavit notes the area where Galey was found had "fresh char marks" as if it had been set on fire. Galey reportedly had blood "all over her clothing" and was detained and brought to the police department for questioning.
During an interview with Detective Mark Fallis, Galey allegedly admitted to killing her mother and daughter and attempting to set the house on fire. She reportedly stated she had been planning the incident for approximately one week.
Shortly after Galey's arrest, Sunshine Smith, who identified herself as a family friend, told The Sentinel-Record Galey's eldest daughter had expressed concern for the safety of her younger sister.
Smith said Galey's eldest daughter came to her house the night before concerned about her younger sister because her mother was allegedly claiming "(the father of her children) was Santa Claus, she was going to end the world, and that the devil has taken over."
She said they called state Child Protective Services and decided to let them handle the situation.
In a news release, police Cpl. Joey Williams said Galey had no criminal history and police had never responded to the Lakeshore residence before for any kind of criminal activity. He also stated the police believe Galey acted alone.