A Holcombe man accused of shooting and killing Robert Petit last May in Rusk County has been found competent to stand trial.
Preston D. Kraft, 31, 26344 Highway G, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in Rusk County Court. Kraft also is charged in Chippewa County Court with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct and bail jumping, after he reportedly fired his gun toward Pettit on April 28, 2018, in the town of Ruby, northeast of Holcombe. He then reportedly shot and killed Petit on May 18.
Kraft, who is incarcerated, appeared in Chippewa County Court on Tuesday. Defense attorney Francesco Balistrieri told Judge Steve Gibbs that his client was deemed competent during a hearing last week in Rusk County Court.
“He feels he is competent, so he’s not disputing what is in the (competency) report,” Balistrieri said.
Judge Gibbs ordered a preliminary hearing to be set, likely in about a month. Kraft waived time limits on his case. Kraft returns to Rusk County Court on the murder case May 14.
Kraft has been in the custody of the Department of Health & Human Services, and was transferred to a mental institute after a hearing last fall.
According to the criminal complaint, Pettit had told police that he approached Kraft’s camper on April 28 when Kraft fired a gun in the air, in his direction. Kraft reportedly told him, “If you come any closer, I am going to kill you.” Pettit fled the area and alerted authorities.
Three officers approached the camper but found it unoccupied. However, officers found a spent shell casing on the step outside the camper, and that was seized as evidence. No gun was located.
According to the criminal complaint in the Rusk County case, Kraft shot and killed Pettit at N1796 S. Blueberry Road in the town of Willard on May 18. An officer found Pettit lying in the driveway at the residence with a head injury. He was flown to Mayo Clinic Health System hospital in Eau Claire where he was pronounced dead. Kraft was arrested in Rusk County after a five-day manhunt. Officers located him after a tip he was northwest of Ladysmith.
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