MODESTO — A defense attorney on Tuesday questioned investigators about when they arrested his client, who has been charged with murder in connection with a suspected Turlock road rage confrontation that resulted in a 67-year-old man's death.
Frank Carson had argued in court that investigators were "tunnel-visioned," zeroing in on his client, Michael Joseph Hoyt, too quickly and took him into custody a few hours after the incident. Carson said his client was only trying to defend himself against Ken Winter, who died from his injuries.
Testimony in Hoyt's trial resumed Tuesday morning with Stanislaus County sheriff's Sgt. Brandon Kiely, who was the supervising homicide investigator at the scene. The confrontation occurred shortly before noon on Feb. 1, 2010, at Linwood Avenue and Paulson Road.
Kiely testified that he could not recall whether Hoyt was arrested before investigators interviewed a woman who said she witnessed Hoyt hitting Winter. He said the witness called dispatchers shortly after 4 p.m. to notify authorities, for the first time, that she witnessed the confrontation.
The homicide investigator said Hoyt was arrested based on Winter's injuries, which were consistent with someone being beaten.
Kiely testified that investigators questioned some witnesses after Hoyt was arrested, because "we want to pursue all leads." Kiely said the investigators pursued all avenues and they didn't focus on Hoyt prematurely.
Hoyt was taken into custody in handcuffs from his home before he admitted that he hit Winter during the confrontation, Kiely testified during cross-examination.
Carson has argued that Winter was the aggressor, throwing the first punch at Hoyt. Winter was drunk, with a blood alcohol level of 0.20 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent to drive.
Kiely testified that Winter's family identified his son as a possible suspect in a confrontation about 1:45 p.m. that same day, while Hoyt was identified as a person of interest about two hours later.
There's no indication that Winter's son had any involvement in the incident, and Kiely said Winter's son was with his father at the hospital when a detective questioned him.
Detective Jon McQueary said he was assigned to assist in the investigation about 2:30 p.m., and shortly thereafter was told by Kiely that Winter was the victim of an assault.
After McQueary went to the Turlock hospital where Winter was treated before he died, the detective testified that he was told Hoyt would be charged with murder and elder abuse if Winter died.
Hoyt only faces a charge of second-degree murder and remains free on bail. His trial continues today.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.