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Death penalty stays in Dystiny Myers case

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated how many defendants joined an unsuccessful motion to dismiss the case. Four of the five defendants did.

A defendant accused of the murder of Dystiny Myers lost a bid Monday to rule out the death penalty as a possible punishment if he is convicted of the teen’s death.

William McLennan, the attorney for Ty Michael Hill of Santa Maria, had argued in San Luis Obispo Superior Court that this should not be a capital case because Myers, 15, was not kidnapped or tortured in the act of a killing — circumstances required for the death penalty.

Hill is one of five people accused in the death of the teen, who was believed to have been killed somewhere between Nipomo and Santa Margarita, where her body was found dumped and burned in a remote grass field in September.

“While the victim was beaten and asphyxiated, there was no evidence that Ty Michael Hill or any of the defendants had the intent to inflict severe pain, beyond the pain of death, for a sadistic or other evil purpose,” McLennan wrote in his a motion.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Tim Covello countered that the facts of the case, as presented at a preliminary hearing, support the charges against Hill.

“It’s clear that it’s a factual determination,” said Covello, saying evidence shows that Hill participated in the beating and transportation of Myers.

Firefighters responding to a brush fire found Myers’ body beaten and burnt, and she was allegedly bound and gagged, and struck repeatedly while being transported in a vehicle from Nipomo.

The others charged with murder in the case include Jason Adam Greenwell, Frank Jacob York and Rhonda Maye Wisto, all of Nipomo, and Cody Lane Miller of Fresno. Each has pleaded not guilty.

Judge Michael Duffy also denied what was described as a perfunctory motion filed by four of the five defendants to dismiss the case.

Wisto allegedly ordered the killing because Myers had been “disrespectful,” though her purported disrespect wasn’t clarified, according to a Sheriff’s Department investigation. Statements made by some of the defendants led deputies to arrest the five suspects.

The attorneys representing Wisto, York and Miller each supported Hill in a motion to dismiss the case based on an argument of lack of sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

The attorney for Greenwell, Harold Messick, didn’t join in the motion, but declined to say why.

The motion to dismiss

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