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June 2, 2023

Manslaughter suspect faces preliminary exam

The local man accused of manslaughter in the death of Hollister’s Lisa Hall has a preliminary examination scheduled for Monday where a judge will decide if there’s suitable evidence for a trial.

Michael J. Simas, 34, is set for a preliminary examination at 8:30 a.m. June 25 at the San Benito County Courthouse  before Judge Steven Sanders. That date was set at a court appearance Thursday. He also has a trial setting, assuming the judge rules in the affirmative at the prelim, set for 9 a.m. July 12.

The preliminary examination is expected to last a half day.

Simas was arrested Aug. 9, 2017 on suspicion of homicide. But charges from San Benito County District Attorney Candice Hooper were reduced to voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm in a felony.

Voluntary manslaughter is defined as killing someone upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion but without malice. If found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, Simas would face three to 11 years in prison as opposed to a potential life sentence. He faces an additional charge of using a firearm while committing a felony, which includes a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Simas, represented by attorney Harry Damkar, remains at the San Benito County Jail on $750,000 in bail.

Hall died after being dropped at the local hospital following the shooting. Police arrested Simas and recommended charges of murder and destruction of evidence.

According to the police statement released after the arrest:

On Aug. 9, police arrested Simas for his suspected involvement in the killing of Hall, age 40.

After her death, Simas agreed to meet with police detectives and answer questions as to how she was shot and killed on Aug. 8. He arrived at the police department along with his attorney.

Simas provided a statement and advised the shooting was accidental and had occurred in his trailer in the unincorporated area of the county on Orchard Road. He also advised detectives where he had disposed of the firearm used in the shooting.

Hollister police detectives recovered the handgun allegedly used in this shooting along Fairview Road. Police Personnel have also seized the trailer that had been moved to Hanford by Simas.

A search warrant had been executed in Hanford yesterday by Hollister Police, UNET Agents and with the assistance of Hanford Police Department. Items seized during that search warrant resulted in further evidence pointing toward Simas’ involvement.