Trial set for murder suspect

LIHUE — After several months of interviews, the trial for a man accused of running over another man with his car has been set.

Evan Craft was examined by a panel of three doctors, Martin Blinders, Daniel Donovan and Terrance Wade, who were ordered to determine if he was fit to proceed to court.

“Each of the doctors have arrived to the same opinion on the issue of fitness — that Mr. Craft is fit to proceed,” said Judge Kathleen Watanabe Tuesday.

At the hearing, Craft, who is charged with second-degree murder and DUI, appeared before Watanabe via a video conference from the Hawaii State Hospital for the final review of the doctor’s findings. During the discussion, both lawyers — Shauna Cahill, who represents Craft, and Justin Kollar, prosecuting attorney, said they stipulated to the results.

“As to the issue of fitness, this court makes a finding on the record that Mr. Craft is in fact fit to proceed,” Watanabe said.

Craft, 35, is facing charges relating to the 2015 death of Michael Helppie.

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 was arrested on June 4, 2015, and later pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On Tuesday, Craft asked Watanabe to make sure his not guilty plea still stands.

Watanabe also ordered that Craft be transferred from the jurisdiction of the director of health to the director of public safety.

She also reinstated his bail, which was set at $500,000.

Craft is expected to go to trial on July 3.

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