A new trial has been set in the case of a Turlock man accused of beating a man to death in an alleged incidence of road rage.
Michael Hoyt, 55, will once again be put on trial for the death of 67-year-old Kenneth Winter. Hoyt is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault likely to inflict great bodily injury. The new trial is set for Feb. 2, 2016.
Hoyt was accused of beating Winter to death after the two men were involved in a traffic incident on Paulson Road. Shortly around 11 a.m. on Feb. 1, 2010, Winter was turning his pickup onto Paulson Road from Linwood Avenue at the same time Hoyt was passing the intersection. Hoyt claims Winter failed to stop at the posted stop sign and that he had to take evasive action to avoid being struck by Winter’s truck. The two men continued driving down the road with Winter in front, until Hoyt decided to pass him up.
According to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Hoyt passed Winter and then stopped his truck in the roadway.
The prosecution contends Hoyt pulled Winter from his truck and began punching and kicking him, relentless in the attack even as Winter curled up in the fetal position on the ground. Winter would later be rushed to Emanuel Medical Center and undergo emergency surgery. He was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of Feb. 2, 2010. A medical examiner testified that Winter’s cause of death was from a ruptured spleen.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department began looking at Hoyt as a possible suspect in the beating after receiving a tip from a woman who said her friend worked with a man who had just detailed to her about being in a fight with “an older dude” out on Paulson Road.
The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office accused Hoyt of flying into a rage with Winter over the traffic incident and charged him with second-degree murder and other lesser offenses. At the conclusion of a trial that lasted several weeks in 2013, a jury found Hoyt not guilty of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter, but after three days of deliberations they were unable to reach a verdict on the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter and a mistrial was declared. The vote was split 10 for acquittal and two for guilty.
From the day of his arrest Hoyt has maintained that he was never in a rage over the traffic dust-up. His defense, led by defense attorney Frank Carson, put forth the theory that Winter was intoxicated and was the aggressor in the fatal incident. During the first trial the defense showed Winter had a blood alcohol level of .20 percent.
Hoyt took the witness stand during his first trial and told the jury Winter was acting like “a wild man.” In Hoyt’s recollection of the altercation, he tried to stop Winter from hitting him by getting him in a bear hug, but that Winter was still able to hit him, so he grabbed him by the back of his neck with one hand and hit him around 10 times in the lower back on the right side with the palm side of his fist.
Since the mistrial, Carson has argued that Hoyt should not be forced to stand trial again because he was acquitted on the murder charge and the statute of limitations negated any new proceedings. In previous proceedings Carson stated that because Hoyt would not be facing more than eight years in prison, the three year statute of limitations should be in effect.
The setting of a new trial comes after plea deal negotiations came to no fruition, something Hoyt previously said he would not consider.
“I intend to fight this all the way,” Hoyt said in a previous interview. “Nothing short of complete vindication will suffice.”