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Judge to decide future of road rage case
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The decision on whether or not Michael Hoyt will face another trial in the fatal beating of a Denair man after a traffic incident will soon be in the hands of a judge.

Hoyt has been facing criminal charges since the Feb. 1, 2010 death of 67-year-old Ken Winter. The two men were involved in a traffic incident on Paulson Road that turned into a physical confrontation. The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office put forth the theory that Hoyt was in a state of rage and beat Winter so severely he ruptured his spleen and caused his death. The defense claimed Winter was intoxicated and was the aggressor in the confrontation and that Hoyt was defending himself.

In May, Hoyt was acquitted of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges. The jury was unable to come to a unanimous verdict on the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. The vote was split 10 for acquittal and two for guilty.

On Monday, the prosecution was seeking to set a new trial date for Hoyt on charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault likely to inflict great bodily injury, with an enhancement that great bodily injury resulted.

But Hoyt’s defense attorney, Frank Carson, wanted the matter to come to a close then and there. Carson argued the district attorney’s office has no standing to retry Hoyt because the statute of limitations has run out on the lesser charges.

“I don’t think we need to come back,” Carson said at Monday’s hearing. “We don’t need to do anything. My client was acquitted of murder. There’s nothing else to retry.”

Carson argued since Hoyt does not face a maximum sentence of more than eight years, the statute of limitations of three years was applicable to the case, and therefore could not proceed.

Deputy District Attorney Wendell Emerson, who prosecuted the case, disagreed with Carson’s reading of the law.

“The limit doesn’t apply because the case started in the time frame of three years,” Emerson said.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Ricardo Cordova decided he wanted more time to research the issue and ordered the case back for Aug. 26, at which time he will decide if the prosecution can continue pursuing a case against Hoyt, or if the remaining charges will be dismissed.