It has been more than two years since Hilmar resident Ken Winter lost his life in what law enforcement believe was an incident of road rage.
For Winter’s widow, Bernice Winter, the question of whether the man arrested for her husband’s death will eventually face a jury has been one fraught with frustrations, as a series of delays has kept the trial at bay.
Michael Hoyt was arrested on Feb. 1, 2010, following the death of Winter. He is facing a second-degree murder charge. Hoyt is accused of beating Winter after a traffic incident on Paulson Road in Turlock. The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office contends the beating was so severe that it caused Winter to die from internal injuries hours after the alleged assault. The defense argues Hoyt was attacked and acted in self-defense.
Hoyt had nine continued arraignments between the conclusion of his preliminary hearing in May 2011 and October 2011. In December 2011, Hoyt’s jury trial was calendared to start July 17, 2012, but recent court proceedings have put that start date in question. Hoyt is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, at which time his defense attorney, Frank Carson, is expected to ask for a jury trial continuance because he has back to back trials scheduled.
“The magic words are, ‘I’m not ready.’ His attorney says that and he gets another continuance,” said Bernice Winter. “It’s just a bunch of hogwash. He’s had plenty of time to get everything together.”
Bernice Winter, who also has a civil suit pending against Hoyt, said the number of delays has taken an emotional toll.
“I feel like I have to be there for Ken, but every time I go to court, it’s like reliving the whole thing over again,” Bernice Winter said. “Every time we have another court date set, I start feeling so depressed and nervous. It is getting to be more than I can take.”
Hoyt will be in Stanislaus County Superior Court Tuesday morning for a motion to continue the jury trial.