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Local News

Mother, Son Found Guilty of Murdering Santa Maria Teen

Frank Jacob York and Rhonda Maye Wisto found guilty in slaying of 15-year-old Dystiny Myers of Santa Maria

A Nipomo man and his mother were found guilty Friday of murdering 15-year-old Dystiny Myers of Santa Maria, and will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

The San Luis Obispo Superior Court jury’s decision to convict Frank Jacob York and Rhonda Maye Wisto of all charges against them puts an end to a 2 ½-year legal battle that spawned thousands of court documents and cost San Luis Obispo County more than $1 million.

As the verdict was read, Myers’ family sat in the front row of the courtroom with their heads bowed, their arms and hands linked.

Aileen Myers, Dystiny’s mother, trembled with tears streaming down her face as the first guilty verdict was read.

“I remember the day like yesterday when I was told (of Myers’ death),” said Kathy Clark, Dystiny’s grandmother. “I look at today as justice being served.”

Clark said the ending of the trial was really a beginning for her family. “She was just a baby,” Clark said. “They took so much from us.”

Click here to read more coverage of the case in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

“One of the things I want everyone to know is that Dystiny was a somebody,” Clark said.

Clark, standing flanked by her sisters, publicly thanked the District Attorney’s Office for their work on the case. “They put their heart and soul into this — for getting justice for Dystiny,” Clark said.

The jury convicted York and Wisto of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, and torture.

The two are scheduled to return to court May 8, when they will be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Three other defendants in the case — Ty Michael Hill of Santa Maria, Cody Lane Miller of Fresno and Jason Adam Greenwell of Nipomo — agreed to enter guilty pleas, avoiding trials. But Wisto, 49, wrote jailhouse notes about legal strategies she could pursue and refused to take a deal. During the trial, it was revealed that Wisto heard rumors that York, 22, might have been considering a deal with the prosecution, but ultimately he too chose to go to trial.

According to the prosecution’s evidence, Myers, a runaway from Santa Maria, arrived at Wisto’s Nipomo home with Hill. During her extended stay at Wisto’s home, she frequently used drugs and — according to the prosecution — was prostituted by the defendants. Meanwhile, Wisto was running a drug operation from her home, frequently doing business with local gang members and skinheads.

Prosecutor Tim Covello argued that respect was important for Wisto’s reputation with those groups. So when she believed Myers had shown her disrespect, she ordered her killing. If Myers had just been kicked out of the house, Covello said, the teen might have told others about the drug activity and York sleeping with her.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 26, 2010, the four males attacked Myers in York’s bedroom, where she was kicked, stomped and struck with fists, a baseball bat, brass knuckles and a sword. As they were beating her, Myers told them to tell her mother she loved her.

“She knew she was going to die,” Covello said during his closing argument. “They were in the process of killing her.”

After the attack, Myers was bound, stuffed in a duffel bag and driven to Santa Margarita.

“All of them committed the murder,” Covello said during his closing arguments, “and all of them aided and abetted.”

The prosecution believes she died during the drive.

After a pit was dug, Hill and York then turned on Miller, beating him with shovels. When Miller began to flee, York pursued him while Hill poured flammable fluids on Myers and ignited her body.

After the suspects left, firefighters arrived at the scene of the fire and were confronted by Miller. Bloodied and fearful of his life, Miller told firefighters about the murder, which broke the case.

Patrick S. Pemberton is a reporter with the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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