The five people accused of killing Dystiny Myers, a 15-year-old Santa Maria girl, could face the death penalty after new charges were brought against them Wednesday.
Prosecutors added new allegations of premeditated murder with the special circumstances of kidnapping, aiding and abetting the alleged crime, and torture.
The special-circumstance allegations allow the prosecution to seek the death penalty, though the District Attorney’s Office has not yet decided whether to do so.
Myers’ burned body was discovered Sept. 26 in a remote field near Santa Margarita. Little information has been released by Sheriff’s Department officials about what may have led to her death.
The five defendants are: Jason Adam Greenwell, 20, Frank Jacob York, 19, and Rhonda Maye Wisto, 47, all of Nipomo; Ty Michael Hill, 28, of Santa Maria; and Cody Lane Miller, 22, of Fresno.
Each of the defendants has pleaded not guilty to murder and denied the special-circumstance allegations.
Judge Barry LaBarbera delayed a preliminary hearing, which was set for Friday, to Nov. 19 because the attorneys said they weren’t prepared to proceed.
In addition to formalizing the new charges Wednesday, LaBarbera imposed a gag order, which the prosecutor and defense attorneys agreed to obey. The District Attorney’s Office had sought the gag order.
The gag order prohibits “the (defendants), attorneys, former attorneys, their agents and witnesses” from making or releasing statements about the case outside the courtroom.
They can comment on certain basic information about the case, including the nature of the charges, the defendants’ pleas to those charges, future court dates and matters to be heard on those court dates.
Each defendant continues to be held at County Jail without bail.
Four men from San Luis Obispo County currently sit on death row for convictions in death penalty cases.
They are Rex Krebs, sentenced in 1999; Michael Whisenhunt, sentenced in 1996; Dennis Webb, sentenced in 1988; and Richard Benson, sentenced in 1987.