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The following article was posted on March 27th, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 35 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 35

Defendants in Myers trial guilty on all counts

BY MATT FOUNTAIN

After just 2 1/2 hours of deliberation, jurors in the Dystiny Myers murder trial returned guilty verdicts for both defendants before an emotional audience.

Frank Jacob York, 21, and his mother, Rhonda Maye Wisto, 49, both of Nipomo, were convicted of charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, as well as criminal enhancements of murder involving torture and committing the crime during a kidnapping.

Prior to the jury entering the courtroom, appearing confident the jury would convict based on the short duration of deliberations, tearful members of Myers’ family hugged prosecutors Tim Covello and Cheryl Wolcott.

While the verdicts were read, York stood emotionless while Wisto quietly wiped her eyes.

Following the verdict, the jury foreman sat on a bench away from the crowd with his head in his hands. He declined immediate comment on jury deliberations.

The verdict followed two weeks of graphic testimony that was as revolting as it was horrifying. In the second week of proceedings—following the testimony of the prosecution’s key witness, former defendant Jason Greenwell—the jury heard testimony from a sheriff’s detective who reviewed recordings of Greenwell and another former defendant, Ty Hill, as they sat in the back of a patrol car after their arrest.

According to the video and testimony, while in the back of the patrol car, Hill remained in possession of the walkie-talkie he was allegedly given by Wisto to keep in communication. The video showed Hill attempting to discreetly reach Wisto—though both he and Greenwell would later tell investigators they knew they were being recorded—to inform her that officers were in possession of her truck, which had Myers’ blood still in the bed.

In another surprise revelation, York’s defense attorney Gerald Carasco moved for a mistrial for his client on March 21, based on statements made by Deputy District Attorney Covello outside the presence of the jury, which alleged that York was a “child molester” as well as a murderer. During the course of testimony, the jury heard that the 15-year-old Myers slept in the then 20-year-old York’s room, as well as other circumstantial evidence including Myers’ lipstick found on York’s mirror, statements allegedly made to another witness by Hill, and Hill’s DNA found on Myers’ mouth.

“[The accusation] is based on the totality of the record,” Covello argued before Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera, suggesting that protecting York provided yet another motive for Wisto to order Myers’ killing. “It’s not just a reasonable inference, it’s the only reasonable inference.”

LaBarbera agreed and promptly shot down Carasco’s motion.

Greenwell, for his testimony, now faces a minimum of 15 years in prison. His former codefendants, Hill and Cody Miller, have already pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Following the unanimous verdict, York and Wisto now face the same possible sentence of life in prison without parole. They are scheduled for sentencing May 8 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.