The start date for a trial involving five defendants in the Dystiny Myers’ slaying case could be delayed past August, it was revealed during a court hearing Thursday.
Defense attorneys representing those accused of killing the 15-year-old in September 2010 couldn’t come to an agreement about sharing the results of lab tests on certain evidence.
The evidence in question includes DNA from bloody clothing and weapons that could help attorneys determine culpability.Myers, of Santa Maria, was found dead, tortured and burned, in a field in Santa Margarita on Sept. 26, 2010.
On Thursday, Judge Barry LaBarbera ruled in San Luis Obispo Superior Court that each item a defense lawyer wants to test would need to be considered after a formal motion is filed in court.
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LaBarbera said his ruling could prolong the trial, now set for Aug. 6, for months, though he gave no specific date.
LaBarbera had hoped that defendant Ty Michael Hill’s lawyers — Bill McLennan and Tom Allen — would share results of lab testing with the lawyers representing the other defendants to expedite the process.
But McLennan argued that the results of the lab testing his experts plan to conduct are privileged and could compromise Hill’s case if shared.
The prosecution has called for a strict procedure on how items of evidence can be examined by defense attorneys to avoid tampering or misplacement.
That includes supervision by a sheriff’s official of the defense’s planned examination of hundreds of items in evidence.
The prosecution also wants a paper trail of the specific lab conducting testing and the measures being taken by the lab to preserve the evidence.
McLennan’s refusal and other discussion Thursday reveals a divide among defense attorneys about how they’re setting up their cases — possibly positioning themselves against each other.
One of the five defendants accused of killing Myers is cooperating with the prosecution, the hearing revealed. Jason Adam Greenwell of Nipomo has recorded a statement taken by the prosecution that has been provided to other defendants involved with the case.
Hill, of Santa Maria, is the only one of the defendants facing the death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty.
Hill’s attorneys expressed concern that the prosecution may be coaching Greenwell about possible future trial testimony, but LaBarbera said the defense has a right to recorded statements.
LaBarbera said Greenwell can speak with prosecutors, though, if he chooses.
Each of the other defendants has pleaded not guilty to murder. They are Greenwell, Cody Lane Miller of Fresno, Frank Jacob York of Nipomo, and Rhonda Maye Wisto of Nipomo.