Dystiny Myers suspect wept during questioning, detective says

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comDecember 10, 2012 

A man facing the death penalty for the murder of Dystiny Myers cried before talking about the case, a detective testified Monday.

Ty Michael Hill is one of five defendants charged in the September 2010 murder of Myers, 15, of Santa Maria.

During a pretrial hearing Monday, Dan Cohen, a detective with the Santa Maria Police Department specializing in gangs, testified that he offered to assist San Luis Obispo County investigators in interviewing Hill since he had dealt with him numerous times in the past.

Cohen testified that he had spoken to Hill both as a criminal suspect and as a victim.

Hill’s defense attorney, Bill McLennan, suggested through questioning that Hill had been a victim of gang violence there.

McLennan had tried to have Hill’s statements to Cohen tossed out, saying he was not properly read his Miranda rights, which would have allowed him not to speak to police. But the prosecution argued that Hill was properly informed of his rights and is familiar with the interrogation process, having been arrested and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail 14 times.

When Cohen was brought in to question Hill after he’d been arrested, the detective testified, Cohen began by asking the murder suspect how he was doing. At that point, Cohen said, Hill began to cry and said, “Not so well” or “I’ve had better days.”

Then Cohen asked if Hill wanted to talk, and Hill said “yes,” Cohen testified.

While McLennan argued that Cohen – who’d previously been read his rights by another detective – wasn’t properly re-advised, Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera said the statements Hill offered were voluntary.

A similar motion for co-defendant Frank Jacob York was also denied Monday, meaning statements he made to police are admissible.

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