Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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Man accused of murder faces separate charges

Authorities say he fired gun toward man he’s charged with later killing

  • Kraft-jpg-1

CHIPPEWA FALLS — Preston D. Kraft, who is accused of fatally shooting Robert Pettit on May 18 in Rusk County, has now been charged with firing a gun toward Pettit weeks earlier in the northeastern corner of Chippewa County.

Kraft, 31, 26344 Highway G, Holcombe, was charged last week 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 in the town of Ruby. Kraft has been charged in Rusk County Court with first-degree intentional homicide in Pettit’s death.

In court on Tuesday, Kraft’s attorney, Laurie Osberg, waived the preliminary hearing. Osberg noted there is already a significant cash bond for Kraft in Rusk County that he cannot post.

Judge Steve Gibbs set a future court date for 10 a.m. Sept. 4, and set a $2,000 cash bond, if Kraft gains release from Rusk County.

Chippewa County assistant district attorney Sheila Yohnk requested that Kraft cannot have any contact with Pettit’s family, and he cannot use illegal drugs or alcohol, and cannot have any contact with anyone who is involved in any drug activity. Gibbs granted each of those requests.

According to the criminal complaint in the Chippewa County case:

Pettit told police 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. An officer found Pettit lying in the driveway at the residence with a head injury. He was flown to Mayo Clinic Health System 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 reported he was northwest of Ladysmith. He returns to Rusk County Court on Aug. 7.

Contact: chris.vetter@ecpc.com


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