The 23-year-old man charged with killing holidaying Victorian surfer Sean McKinnon pleaded not guilty to murder in New Zealand’s High Court in Hamilton on Tuesday.
The accused, whose name is suppressed, will face a trial in November 2020 after finally proving fit to enter a plea.
He will face one count of murder, threatening to kill, robbery causing grievous bodily harm and driving while disqualified.
Previous hearings had been postponed owing to mental health concerns.
The accused entered his plea through counsel Sheila Cameron, who also successfully applied for an extension of the man’s name suppression due to his fragile mental health.
Ms Cameron told the court her client’s recovery from psychosis was only recent and he still needed monitoring, according to a report from news outlet Stuff, which also said members of Mr McKinnon’s family were in court for the appearance.
He was sleeping in his campervan alongside his fiancee, Canadian midwife Bianca Buckley, when he was shot several times.
Ms Buckley fled through the bush on the outskirts of the North Island holiday town of Raglan. She sought refuge in a farmhouse, from where she alerted authorities to her partner’s death.
The alleged murderer was apprehended on the outskirts of nearby Hamilton later that day, having driven the campervan for some time before abandoning it.
He has been remanded since then. He will next appear in court in March for a callover hearing, when the name suppression order will be reviewed.
The High Court has set aside three weeks for the trial, due to begin on November 16, 2020.