LIHUE — Evan Randal Craft, 36, was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison on Wednesday for running over and killing Michael Helppie, Jr., in the early morning hours of June 1, 2015, outside the Nawiliwili Tavern.
Judge Kathleen Watanabe handed down the sentence following an emotional hearing where several members of Helppie’s ohana addressed the court.
Craft also made a statement and was represented by court-appointed counsel Shauna Lee Cahill.
Craft, originally of Westlake Village, Calif., was sentenced on a single charge of manslaughter, a class A felony, to which he pleaded no contest and was found guilty on June 21.
Police said Craft and Helppie, 37, got into a disagreement outside the tavern after it closed. The dispute moved over to the jetty area, where Craft was living out of his car at the time.
The disagreement grew physical. Craft then got into his car, backed it up, and accelerated forward, crushing Helppie to death against a concrete parking lot divider.
“While we cannot bring Michael back, we can bring justice and a sense of closure to his family and friends,” said Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry.
Prosecuting Attorney Justin F. Kollar said that Detective Christian Jenkins and Officer Shawn Hanna were able to determine, through the use of advanced scientific techniques, that Craft actually accelerated forward and steered toward Helppie, who was walking across the parking area in front of Craft’s car.
“That’s what convinced us this was an intentional act and not an accident,” Kollar said. “Rather than simply drive away, Craft made the choice to run down and kill Michael Helppie in a senseless act of violence that he can never take away or undo.”