A mother and son convicted of murdering a 15-year-old Santa Maria girl will serve the rest of their lives in prison with no possibility for parole, a San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge said Wednesday.
The sentencing of Rhonda Wisto, 49, and Jacob York, 22, is the latest chapter in a shocking case that began in September 2010, when Dystiny Myers’ bound and burned body was found in rural Santa Margarita.
Neither Wisto nor York, both convicted by the same jury in March, spoke during their hearing, though York’s attorney did read a letter his client wrote to the victim’s family.
“I deeply want to say I’m sorry for the loss and heartache,” wrote York, who suggested Myers was in heaven. “There is an angel watching over you.”
According to court testimony, Myers was a runaway who wound up staying at Wisto’s Nipomo mobile home, which served as a meth distribution center. At some point, Wisto, feeling Myers had disrespected her, ordered her killing, which was taken out by York, Ty Hill, Cody Miller and Jason Greenwell.
While several defendants — including York — implicated Wisto, she maintained her innocence throughout, recently telling the Probation Department she did not order the murder.
“I might be guilty of a lot of things, but I am not guilty of telling those boys, including my son, to hurt that girl,” she said, according to her pre-sentencing probation report.
“Ty Hill is a sadistic monster. … I would never allow that to go on in my own home.”
All of the defendants, except for Greenwell, have been given life prison terms without parole. Greenwell, who testified against the mother and son, is expected to receive a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Before Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera issued the sentence, members of Myers’ family passed out green ribbons, honoring the teen, whose favorite color was green. Standing before a packed courtroom, Myers’ grandmother, Kathy Clark, held an enlarged photo of the victim.
“This is a picture of my granddaughter,” she said. “She was full of love. She was happy. … Dystiny is our angel. Dystiny is still looking down on us, and she’s saying, ‘It’s OK, Grandma.’”
After the hearing, Clark held a photo album containing more pictures of her granddaughter dating back to her infancy.
“This is the day she and her little brother were dedicated to Jesus,” she said, describing one photo.
In another photo, Myers is singing into a microphone.
“She actually wrote that song,” Clark said.
“This one doesn’t even look like her,” Clark added, pointing to a shot of an older Myers wearing sunglasses and dyed hair. “Decided to do the black hair.”
Clark said she was sitting in her car at the cemetery where Myers is buried when God convinced her to forgive the murderers.
Myers’ mother, Aileen Myers, however, said she will not forgive the defendants. Meanwhile, she addressed a comment that Wisto allegedly made, saying Myers was a nobody.
“She was a somebody,” Aileen Myers said. “She will be now, and she will be later.”
Myers’ church pastor, Rick Bloom, said she was a loving person quick to offer a hug.
“I know she got off track,” he said. “She would’ve gotten back on track.”
The night of the murder, the defendants were all high on meth. Wisto told the Probation Department she had used the drug “all my adult life unless I was pregnant or working.”
A one-time Cuesta College student, Wisto had two sons — the other lives in Boston — and was twice divorced.
During her probation interview, she said the sentencing hearing would be the last time she’d ever see York.
Prior to the hearing, Wisto looked over to York and whispered the words, “I love you.” York was then seen rubbing his cheek.
While it is likely that the two will never see each other again, for the Myers’ family the crime — which prosecutor Tim Covello wrote was the “most heinous and brutal” he’d seen in 20 years at the District Attorney’s Office — has even more profound implications.
Even though Clark said she sees signs of Dystiny regularly, her sudden death left a painful void.
“There’s no words to express how much we miss her,” Clark said.
Click here for more coverage of the trial from the San Luis Obispo Tribune.