A murder charge against a 28-year-old Manteca man who is alleged to have caused the death of a Ceres woman motorcycle rider last Saturday evening has been dropped to involuntary manslaughter.
Brett Andrew Phares is scheduled to appear today in Department 35 of the Stockton Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m.
Phares was reportedly being sought by Manteca officers on burglary charges when he ran across the Highway 99 freeway lanes about 6:30 p.m. in an attempt to evade officers. He allegedly caused the southbound traffic at Yosemite Avenue to block up when motorists coming down the overpass grade attempted to avoid hitting him.
The Ceres woman, Winona Moore, died later of her injuries. She had been riding on the back of her husband’s motorcycle with a troupe of recreational riders. Phares led officers on a pursuit down Highway 99 that involved three counties: San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced.
In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charge, the Manteca man is facing four felonies that include kidnapping, carjacking, vehicle theft and evading peace officers with wanton disregard for public safety.
Phares is also facing charges from a no-bail warrant for driving under the influence on two counts. A driving on a suspended charge was apparently dropped by authorities before going to court. He is currently being held without bail in the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp.
The pursuit reportedly reached speeds of 95 miles an hour down the freeway into Merced County and involved officers from the Manteca Police Department, the Ripon Police Department, The California Highway Patrol, Merced County Sheriff’s Department, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, and the CHP helicopter.
The kidnapping charge comes from the alleged carjacking of a vehicle belonging to a freelance news photographer on Highway 99 near Delhi working with Fox 40 News. In the car were the man’s wife and their infant son who were later let out of the vehicle on the side of the road.
A celebration of life is being held at 11 a.m. today for Mrs. Moore at the Richland Faith Assembly of God Church in Ceres. She had worked for Gallo for 37 years with her passions being family, reading, and puzzles and riding motorcycles – and is known for being a caring and light hearted person.