Man pleads innocent in road rage killing

February 10, 2010 

DN Hoyt Arraign 1

Family members of Ken Winter, including widow Bernice Winter at center after the Michael Hoyt arraignment held at Stanislaus County Superior Court in Modesto. Judge Ricardo Cordova presiding, February 10, 2010. (DEBBIE NODA/

The 49-year-old man accused of killing another man in an alleged fit of road rage pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder.

A judge formally charged Michael Hoyt of Turlock with murder at the arraignment hearing.

Relatives of Ken Winter, 67, said the Hilmar man was dragged from his truck by Hoyt near Linwood Avenue and Paulson Road in Turlock. They said Winter died from internal bleeding as result of the fight.

"He never had a chance," said Winter's widow, Bernice.

Defense attorney Frank Carson said Hoyt sustained a broken rib and bruises from Winter and said Hoyt has not been given medical treatment in jail.

"It was obvious to me the distress he was in," Carson said.

Deputy District Attorney Wendell Emerson said Hoyt never told officers of any injuries at the time of his arrest. "This is a new development," Emerson said.

Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova ordered that Hoyt be given a medical screening.

Hoyt will return to court Feb. 26, when Carson will ask for Hoyt's bail to be reduced. Hoyt is currently in jail in lieu of $2 million bail.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at or 578-2337.

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