The trial of the five defendants accused of killing 15-year-old Dystiny Myers of Santa Maria and leaving her body in a Santa Margarita field in 2010 has been postponed until mid-January.
In a hearing Monday, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera expressed concern about delaying the trial and said he would be reluctant to consider any future requests to delay it further.
Firefighters found Myers’ tortured and burned body in a field in Santa Margarita on Sept. 26, 2010. The trial was originally scheduled to start Aug. 6.
The delay comes after LaBarbera ruled Monday that the defense attorneys should have a reasonable amount of time to test evidence involved in the case.
LaBarbera ordered San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorneys Tim Covello and Cheryl Wolcott to allow the defense attorneys representing Ty Michael Hill — the only one of the defendants facing the death penalty — to submit requested evidence for testing.
The evidence in question includes DNA from bloody clothing and weapons that could help attorneys determine culpability.
Hill’s defense attorneys, Bill McLennan and Thomas Allen, had requested that their own laboratory test many of the 74 items of evidence now held by the prosecution.
Wolcott argued that allowing that to happen could compromise entire pieces of evidence considered critical in the case.
“It is risking that evidence be altered, lost or consumed,” Wol-cott said.
LaBarbera said that firm guidelines on how the evidence would be handled would be required.
“You will know who handled it (the evidence), you just won’t know the results,” LaBarbera said. “Mr. Hill has a right in my mind to test this evidence.”
At the prosecution’s request, the procedure on how items of evidence can be examined by defense attorneys could include law enforcement officers delivering the evidence to a licensed lab and a full disclosure of all people who handled it.
Those procedures are to be determined at a court hearing May 22.
Hill, of Santa Maria, is the only one of the defendants facing the death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty.
Each of the other defendants has pleaded not guilty to murder. They are Jason Adam Greenwell, Rhonda Maye Wisto and Frank Jacob York — all of Nipomo — and Cody Lane Miller of Fresno.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.