Trial in firefighter death delayed

  • The trial for Christopher Hemlinger, charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide was continued Friday in Circuit Court. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KEALAKEKUA — The trial for a 21-year-old man accused of manslaughter and negligent homicide in the death of a Hawaii Fire Department captain has been pushed back.

Christopher Raymond Helmlinger, through his attorney Michael Schlueter, submitted a motion to continue the trial which was scheduled to begin Sept. 4.

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Kona Circuit Court Judge Melvin H. Fujino granted the motion Friday, setting the jury trial for Nov. 5.

Helmlinger, who was indicted by a grand jury on June 10, remains out of custody, having previously posted bail of $100,000 two days after the fatal crash near mile marker 14 on Mamalahoa Highway in North Kona.

Helmlinger entered not guilty pleas to manslaughter and second-degree negligent homicide in connection with the multiple-car wreck that killed David Mahon, a 49-year-old Kailua-Kona man who had a lengthy career with the fire department.

Police say Helmlinger was driving a Kona-bound Honda Pilot and overtaking several vehicles in a no-passing zone when he collided head-on with the motorcycle that Mahon was operating the morning of May 22. Mahon, an 18-year veteran of the Hawaii Fire Department, who earlier this year became a fire captain in Hilo, was headed to work in Hilo at the time of the fatal crash.

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A third vehicle, a white Jeep Grand Cherokee, was also involved in the wreck. Neither Helmlinger nor the driver of the Jeep required medical attention.

Manslaughter is a class A felony punishable by up to 2o years imprisonment upon conviction, while second-degree negligent homicide is a class C felony that carries a potential five-year prison term.

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