A judge on Wednesday delayed a preliminary hearing for the Turlock man authorities allege was driven by road rage to beat a 67-year-old motorist to death.
Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova told 50-year-old Michael Hoyt, who is free on bail and charged with murder, to return to court Jan. 25. Testimony is expected to last for two days, after which Córdova will decide if there is enough evidence for Hoyt to face trial.
A prosecutor asked for the delay because a pathologist set to testify is out of the country.
The delay came as a surprise to relatives of victim Ken Winter. His sister, who was in tears in the courtroom hallway, said she traveled 350 miles to attend Wednesdays hearing.
Authorities said Hoyt dragged the Hilmar man from his truck near Linwood Avenue and Paulson Road in Turlock on Feb. 1. They said Winter died from internal bleeding as a result of the fight.
On Feb. 10, Hoyt pleaded not guilty to murder.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337. Follow her at twitter.com/modbeecourts.