New charges filed in fatal Turlock fight

05/16/2013 2:13 PM

05/16/2013 2:16 PM

Prosecutors Thursday filed new charges against a 53-year-old Turlock man found not guilty of murder in the death of another man in a suspected road rage case from 2010.

Michael Joseph Hoyt, 53, appeared in Stanislaus County Superior Court on the new charges, which stem from a fight he had with Ken Winter, 67, of Hilmar outside of Turlock.

The confrontation Feb. 1, 2010, at Linwood Avenue and Paulson Road. During his trial, Hoyt testified Winter lunged at him first, and he fought back in self-defense. Both men drove away from the scene after the fight; Winter lost consciousness after arriving at his sheet-metal shop and later died.

Winter was drunk when he died, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.20 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent to drive.

Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said prosecutors are charging Hoyt with involuntary manslaughter and assault likely to inflict great bodily injury, with an enhancement that great bodily injury resulted.

Prosecutors initially charged Hoyt with murder, but a jury earlier this month found him not guilty of that and two levels of voluntary manslaughter. Jurors deadlocked on a lesser charge, leading to a mistrial.

On Thursday, Deputy District Attorney Wendell Emerson and defense attorney Frank Carson had a lengthy meeting in chambers with Judge Ricardo Córdova. Afterward, they agreed to return to court July 15 for a pretrial hearing.

The time will allow the attorneys to work on a potential plea agreement, Shipley said in an email.

Hoyt also has a July 8 hearing to discuss the status of his bail — he remains free from custody. Córdova told Hoyt he didn’t need to attend that hearing and could let Carson handle it.

“I intend to be here, your honor,” Hoyt responded.

After Thursday’s hearing, Hoyt said he isn’t sure what will happen with the new charges.

“That remains to be seen,” he said. He said he felt somewhat vindicated by the jury’s failure to convict. “I’m just relieved the jury listened to the evidence.”

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