Sentencing rescheduled in trucker’s 2017 vehicular homicide case

February 2, 2019

A sentencing hearing was delayed Friday for a Mississippi truck driver on a vehicular homicide charge after the victim’s father was unable to get to the hearing in time.

Patrick A. Craft, 41, pleaded no contest Oct. 30 to a charge of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle stemming from his failure to stop at a stop sign in August 2017. His semi truck crashed into a passenger van, killing Christine Novak, 40, of Lake Geneva.

Craft faces up to 7½ years in prison.

At the Columbia County Courthouse on Friday, Assistant District Attorney Mary Ellen Karst said Novak’s father was stuck in the Chicago area after a traffic jam while driving to Wisconsin.

“Because of circumstances that were not at all in his control, he is not able to be here today,” Karst said.

Karst said she was obligated on the victim’s behalf to request a rescheduled sentencing date. Two other family members of the victim who were present in court did not wish to deliver an impact statement in person.

Defense attorney Mark David Lawton said his client preferred to move ahead with the sentencing because his own family had traveled a long way to be in court.

Neither party could remain in Wisconsin until Monday.

Judge Todd Hepler called a recess to meet privately with Lawton and Karst. The three returned to court with a consensus to reschedule the hearing for April 15.

Craft and his own family members, who had traveled from Mississippi, left the courthouse Friday to head home.

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