SAN JOSE -- A 62-year-old Los Gatos man faces an involuntary manslaughter charge after he fired a warning shot at an auto-theft suspect fleeing his home, killing the man whose body was later discovered nearly 20 miles away next to Spartan Stadium, authorities said.
Craig Yuhara is charged with involuntary manslaughter and a firearm enhancement in connection with the killing of 47-year-old Daniel Winslow, who was found dead Sunday in a Jeep abandoned near the San Jose State University tennis courts on East Humboldt Street.
Yuhara appeared calm and upbeat when he was arraigned Thursday, with his wife looking on from the court gallery. He was expected to be released after posting $75,000 bail.
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Brian Welch said the involuntary manslaughter charge was filed because the deadly shot lacked an intent to kill, describing it as Yuhara looking to "send a message" to the driver not to return to his property.
"We don't believe there is any evidence the defendant intended to kill Mr. Winslow," Welch said.
Riccardo Ippolito, a San Jose-based attorney representing Yuhara, called the situation "tragic" for everyone involved and hinted at a plea deal.
"The prosecution has the same take as I do," Ippolito said, adding that he expects a resolution that will satisfy both parties.
That left a friend of Winslow's who attended the hearing walking away in disgust. Jeff, a San Jose resident who declined to give his last name, described Winslow as the father of a son and said Winslow was emerging from a troubled past.
"Everyone who knew him loved him," Jeff said.
Winslow's death and lack of connection to the area he was found puzzled residents for several days until it surfaced that he had been shot near Yuhara's home in the Lexington Hills area of unincorporated Los Gatos.
According to a report from university police -- which spearheaded the investigation because of where Winslow was found -- two men abandoned a moving truck in a clearing across from Yuhara's home on Saturday night. Yuhara reported the vehicle to the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, which dispatched deputies who determined it was stolen, had a punched-out ignition and was out of gas.
The deputies contacted the registered owner of the van to make arrangements for her to reclaim it.
Before that could happen, about 8 a.m. the next morning two men, one identified as Winslow, drove up in a Jeep and started filling the van's gas tank from a can. That prompted Yuhara to emerge from his home armed with a .357 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun to confront them.
A brief argument over who owned the van followed, and Winslow got back into the Jeep and it began to drive toward Yuhara, who got out of the way, police said. As it sped away, Yuhara fired a single shot at the Jeep; the bullet entered the back of the vehicle and hit Winslow, who was in the passenger seat.
Yuhara contacted deputies who responded to take a report. An hour later, Winslow's body was discovered on university property by a neighborhood resident.
After that revelation, Yuhara was arrested at his home. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison.
The driver who abandoned Winslow inside the Jeep remains at large.