A judge confirmed Monday that a Santa Maria man accused of murdering a 15-year-old girl in 2010 will face the death penalty if convicted of the girl’s death.
San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy denied a motion to allow a new preliminary hearing for Ty Michael Hill, who has been charged with first-degree murder for the gruesome death of Dystiny Myers.
Hill is also facing charges of kidnapping, torture and aiding-and-abetting, all special circumstances that make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
William McLennan, Hill’s attorney, argued that no evidence was presented during a February preliminary hearing to prove that Myers was tortured and kidnapped prior to her death.
Myers’ charred body was discovered shortly after 5 a.m. Sept. 26 near Santa Margarita in northern San Luis Obispo County.
At the conclusion of the February preliminary hearing, Judge Barry LaBarbera ruled that enough evidence existed to order Hill and four co-defendants to stand trial on the charges.
Also charged in the case are Rhonda Maye Wisto and her son, Frank Jacob York, both of Nipomo; Jason Greenwell of Nipomo; and Cody Miller of Fresno. Hill is the only suspect in Myers’ murder facing the death penalty.
“This court has an obligation to not partake in speculation and guesswork,” McLennan said. “The court has to look at the record as a whole. What you have here is a meth-fueled beating of a young girl. What you don’t have is a kidnapping and torture.”
Prosecutors believe the Santa Maria teen died sometime between Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 after she was beaten, hogtied, duct-taped from head to toe and possibly drugged at Wisto’s home on Mars Court in Nipomo, where she had been staying.
Myers died from manual asphyxiation and blunt-force trauma. She also had toxic levels of methamphetamine in her system, which contributed to her death, according to county sheriff and coroner officials.
McLennan also argued that the prosecution has offered no evidence to prove that the alleged special circumstances —kidnapping and torture — showed intent on Hill’s part to murder Myers.
“That’s the horrible tragedy of this case,” McLennan said.“There seems to be no motive at all.”
Prosecutor Tim Covello argued that McLennan was twisting the evidence in the case to be “how he’d like the evidence to read.”
“He’s asking the court to adopt his own interpretation of the circumstantial evidence,” Covello said.
Transcripts from the preliminary hearing show sufficient evidence to support LaBarbera’s ruling, Duffy said