Man’s fitness to proceed with trial to be determined

LIHUE — Before the case against a man accused of second degree murder can continue, doctors must decide if he is fit to proceed with trial.

That’s something the court has been trying to determine for several months.

On Tuesday, Evan Craft appeared before Judge Kathleen Watanabe on second degree murder and DUI charges via video conference from the Hawaii State Hospital for a status on the medical reports that would determine his fitness to continue with court proceedings.

Craft, 34, is facing murder and DUI charges relating to the 2015 death of Michael Helppie.

Three doctors — Martin Blinders, Daniel Donovan and Terrance Wade — were designated to interview Craft to determine his fitness to continue with a trial.

In January, the doctors could not come to an agreement regarding Craft’s fitness to proceed with trial.

So Craft’s attorney, Shauna Cahill, asked that a re-examination be ordered.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, Cahill said only Martin had submitted his re-examination report.

“We’ve only gotten one report. The state has received it, but I haven’t had the chance to review it,” Cahill said.

Watanabe said the state hasn’t received Blinder’s report either.

While Donovan has met with Craft, his report has not been submitted. And Wade is on vacation until the end of the week, Cahill said.

Cahill asked for a short continuance for the status hearing.

In the early morning hours of June 1, 2015, police believe Craft and Helppie got into a confrontation at a bar. The incident continued outside, where Craft’s SUV struck Helppie near the Kalapaki Seawall along Nawiliwili Park, according to reports.

Helppie, 37, died at the scene.

Craft, who was arrested on June 4, 2015, was originally represented by Emmanuel Guerrero, who withdrew his services in December.

On Tuesday, Watanabe set a status hearing for Feb. 28.

“I am not in receipt of the two reports. I hope we’ll have the reports at that time so we can proceed,” she said.

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