The horrific final moments of slain teen Dystiny Myers’ life were described in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Monday by investigators who depicted the five people accused of killing her as members of a drug ring whose alleged female leader ordered the girl’s killing.
But no motive for Myers’ homicide was revealed in a preliminary hearing that continues today in Judge Barry LaBarbera’s courtroom.
Detectives described a callous homicide that was capped off by three of the defendants making a stop at Jack in the Box in San Luis Obispo for tacos.
That was after allegedly beating, binding and partially burning Myers’ body, which was discovered in a remote Santa Margarita field Sept. 26.
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Myers was a 15-year-old who was remembered fondly by her teachers and principal at a Santa Maria junior high school.
She’d also spent time in juvenile hall in Santa Barbara County and had run away from home, according to investigators who took the stand Monday.
The night she died, she was allegedly assaulted by multiple defendants and beaten with a baseball bat at the Nipomo home of Rhonda Maye Wisto — the defendant who investigators said ordered her killing.
Defendants Cody Lane Miller of Fresno, Ty Michael Hill of Santa Maria and Jason Adam Greenwell of Nipomo each gave police statements that three investigators recounted at Monday’s hearing. The statements are consistent in many ways, yet it is still unclear exactly how the events transpired.
Each of the five defendants, who also include Frank Jacob York of Nipomo, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
Miller told a sheriff’s detective that after meeting Hill and York, he went to Nipomo to engage in and learn about drug sales and stayed at Wisto’s home for a period of time, San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s Detective Eric Twisselman testified.
Other testimony indicated that Hill, Wisto, York and Greenwell each got high on methamphetamines on the day of the incident.
According to Twisselman, Miller saw the four other defendants play a role in Myers’ beating at Wisto’s Nipomo home before they put Myers, who was still alive, in a canvas bag and carried her to a pickup with a camper shell.
Miller sat in the bed of the truck with Myers as Hill, York and Greenwell rode in the cab, Twisselman testified.
Miller told the detective he was ordered to keep her quiet at a Chevron gas station as they stopped to fill up with fuel, because law enforcement officers were at the station.
Miller hit Myers several times in the truck at the gas station before the group drove to the remote location where they dug a hole for Myers’ body, Twisselman testified.
Myers was still alive when they got to the Santa Margarita area, Twisselman said Miller told him, though other testimony suggested she may have been dead by then and that Miller had shoved a glove down her throat during the ride.
Miller told the detective that as they dug, he was whacked in the head twice with a shovel and later ran from York, who chased him with a shovel before he escaped into the woods.
Miller said he hid before fire department officials arrived, and he was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center for treatment for a broken jaw that had to be wired shut.
Wisto had ordered the killings of Myers and Miller, according to the police statement of Hill, who spoke with Santa Maria police supervisor Daniel Cohen.
Wisto believed Miller was working with law enforcement as a confidant about their narcotics operation, Cohen said.
Forensic investigators found a glove shoved down Myers’ throat, sweatpants tied around her neck and skull fractures. One of her eyes had been gouged out of its socket, and there was severe bruising throughout her body.
Detectives said they found a baseball bat with blood and York’s fingerprints on it at the Nipomo home.
Myers died from mechanical asphyxiation with blunt force trauma and a toxic level of meth in her system, Sheriff-Coroner’s Detective Stuart MacDonald testified.
Sheriff’s detective Patrick Zuchelli testified that Miller told Greenwell that he’d shoved a glove down Myers’ throat during the car ride north. Greenwell also said he saw Hill light Myers’ bound body on fire, Zuchelli testified.
Later, Greenwell, Hill and York stopped at Jack in the Box on Santa Rosa Street, and Greenwell went in to buy $8 worth of tacos, Zuchelli testified.
Greenwell’s attorney, Harold Mesick, asked Zuchelli if his client appeared remorseful in the second of two interviews they conducted, and the detective said “yes.”
Other questions from defense attorneys seemed to focus on when investigators believed Myers died based on their interviews. The defendants’ statements to police seemed to differ on whether she died before or after the group arrived in the Santa Margarita area.
The hearing continues at 9:30 a.m. today in LaBarbera’s courtroom.