Prosecution presents chilling evidence in Dystiny Myers murder trial

Rhonda Wisto, left, and her son, Jacob York, appear in court Monday, March 11, 2013, in San Luis Obispo. The pair are on trial for the murder of 15-year-old Dystiny Myers.
Rhonda Wisto, left, and her son, Jacob York, appear in court Monday, March 11, 2013, in San Luis Obispo. The pair are on trial for the murder of 15-year-old Dystiny Myers.

After Ty Michael Hill wrote out a list of things needed to kill Dystiny Myers, Rhonda Wisto provided the items on that list, a prosecutor told a jury Monday. But more importantly, he added, Wisto enlisted her son to help kill the 15-year-old Santa Maria teen.

“She provided everything needed to accomplish this crime,” said assistant district attorney Tim Covello during his opening statements.

Two and a half years after Myers’s burned body was found in rural Santa Margarita, attorneys began presenting evidence to a jury for two of the defendants, Wisto and her son, Frank Jacob York. Three other defendants – Hill, Cody Miller and Jason Greenwell -- have agreed to guilty pleas.

While laying out the prosecution’s case, Covello said Myers, a runaway from Santa Maria, was killed because she knew about the group’s illegal activities and because she had disrespected Wisto.

“In the word’s of Rhonda Wisto’s son, ‘Dystiny had a mouth on her. She was popping off,’” Covello said.

Wisto’s attorney, Michael Cummins, said Wisto was “not a saint,” but she was also not a murderer.

“You’re going to get to know several murderers in this case,” he said, saying Hill – not Wisto -- was the ringleader. “The evidence is going to show that Ty Michael Hill is the purest manifestation of evil in human form you have ever encountered.”

York’s attorney, meanwhile, said his client never knew of the plot to kill Myers – and just happened to walk into his mother’s home after the others had beaten and bound the victim.

“Her head had been crushed by a baseball bat swung by Ty Hill,” Gerald Carrasco said.

After the gang decided to kill Myers, Covello said, they acquired the items on Hill’s list, including a tent bag, three shovels and a comforter.

“They used a lot of duct tape,” Covello said, “and I’m afraid you’re going to see how they used duct tape.”

Other items they procured included lime, rope, a baseball bat and brass knuckles, Covello said. And when the attack began in Wisto’s Nipomo home, he said, it was a group effort.

“Four men attacked (Myers), with weapons,” Covello said. “She fought, and she kept struggling, and she said she was sorry.”

At one point, he said, Hill told York to “Mark McGwire” the teen’s legs with a baseball bat. McGwire is the former home run-hitting Major Leaguer.

After the attack, Covello said, Myers was bound with tape, tied with rope and stuffed into the tent bag. Then the men took her in Wisto’s truck to Santa Margarita.

Around 2 a.m., the group stopped at a Chevron gas station in Pismo Beach to get refreshments. As unknowing Pismo police pulled into the station parking lot, Hill was looking at sunglasses inside.

“Dystiny’s outside struggling,” Covello said. “She’s making noise, so Cody Miller has to quiet her.”

Miller allegedly told investigators he punched Myers and stuffed a glove in her mouth – a glove that Kenneth Jones, a forensic specialist with the sheriff’s office, later held up for jurors.

At a rural location in Santa Margarita, Covello said, Miller carried Myers – now deceased – to a pit the group had dug. After he dropped her in the hole, Hill doused her with flammable materials, and she was lit on fire.

“And they left her like garbage,” Covello said.

The group then attacked Miller, who managed to escape – though his nose was partially amputated in the attack. He later told firefighters and investigators what had happened.

After the crime, the three remaining suspects stopped at Jack in the Box in San Luis Obispo for tacos and headed to Nipomo. Hill and Greenwell were arrested later that morning. York was apprehended that evening.

With little cross-examination from defense attorneys – who will likely save most of their questions for co-defendants Miller and Greenwell – the trial moved quickly. Members of Myers’s family, including her mother and grandmother, sat in the front row.

When Covello showed the jurors a photo of the pit, with Myers in the hole, her mother, Aileen Myers, ran out of the courtroom, sobbing. As he showed photos of the autopsy, the victim’s grandmother, Kathy Clark, followed.

The graphic photos showed a badly burned Myers, severely bound with tape and rope.

“The rope kind of went everywhere,” said Steven Crawford, who examined the body for the coroner’s office.

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