A Union County jury has found a minor Internet celebrity guilty of murdering a prominent attorney in his Clark home in 2013.

Caleb “Kai the Hitchhiker” McGillvary, 30, was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder. He now faces up to life in prison.

Prosecutors say McGillvary brutally beat 73-year-old Joseph Galfy Jr. about two days after the two met by chance in Times Square. Galfy, a retired Army major and partner in a Rahway law firm, allowed McGillvary, a drifter and self-declared "indigent illegal immigrant from Canada," to stay at his home.

McGillvary claimed that he hit Galfy in self-defense, suggesting that Galfy may have drugged and raped him. McGillvary said investigators ignored evidence of Galfy's semen.

But prosecutors say Galfy's injuries contradicted McGillvary's claims of self-defense and that the professional hitchhiker made inconsistent statements to investigators and cut his long hair to avoid being recognized after the slaying. Despite the freshly shorn appearance, a barista in Philadelphia recognized the neck-tattooed McGillvary three days later and called police.

Prosecutors said Galfy's 5-foot-5 and 230-pound frame suffered numerous blows to the face, neck, chest and arms. His skull was cracked in three locations, he had four broken ribs and serious bruisings, scrapes and bleeding. His partially clothed body was found by police on May 13, 2013.

Caleb "Kai" McGillvary was convicted April 24, 2019, of murder. (Union County Prosecutor's Office)
Caleb "Kai" McGillvary was convicted April 24, 2019, of murder. (Union County Prosecutor's Office)

“This was a brutal, vicious, senseless crime, and we are pleased that the interests of justice have been served,” Acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan said Wednesday after the verdict. “We sincerely thank the jury for their service and hope that today’s verdict brings some measure of solace to Mr. Galfy’s family, friends, and loved ones.”

McGillvary achieved some internet notoriety early in 2013 after a bonkers interview with a Fresno, California TV station in which he described how he saved a woman from an attacker who claimed to be Jesus. McGillvary said he beat back the attacker using a hatchet.

McGillvary's trial also was marked by outbursts, NJ.com reported.

His Facebook fan page on Wednesday posted a "message from Kai" that said that "this false conviction WILL be overturned" and that he is "looking for a REAL lawyer who can ACTUALLY, EFFECTIVELY argue my case for appeal."

"I just watched four weeks of railroading and with the most pathetic closing argument I have ever heard: a closing argument that flew in the face of facts and was designed only to harm my case," the statement says. "Don't worry though, we have been documenting everything and already have more than enough instances of misconduct, abuse of discretion, and ineffectiveness of defense counsel to overturn this false conviction and get a new trial."

McGillvary faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced June 13 in Elizabeth. A spokesman for the prosecutor declined to comment on McGillvary's immigration status.

This story has been updated to include a statement from McGillvary.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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