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Governor reverses another parole for Dystiny Myers killer

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Jason Greenwell, one of the five people convicted a decade ago of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering 15-year-old Dystiny Myers of Santa Maria in 2010, faced parole rejection for a second time.

DARK HISTORY Convicted murderer Jason Greenwell demonstrates during his 2013 trial testimony how Santa Maria teenager Dystiny Myers was hogtied before her death. - FILE POOL PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID MIDDLECAMP/THE TRIBUNE
  • File Pool Photo Courtesy Of David Middlecamp/the Tribune
  • DARK HISTORY Convicted murderer Jason Greenwell demonstrates during his 2013 trial testimony how Santa Maria teenager Dystiny Myers was hogtied before her death.

On Sept. 14, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow's request to reverse the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Parole Board's decision. Last year, Newsom reversed the parole board's 2021 grant as well. Both times, he concluded that Greenwell lacks an understanding of his triggers for substance abuse linked to violent tendencies and of what's needed to develop healthy support systems upon release.

"Without these supports, Mr. Greenwell will be at risk for relapse and will have challenges navigating the stressors he is certain to face in a prosocial way," Newsom wrote in his decision. "Until he does this additional work, I find that Mr. Greenwell's release is not consistent with public safety."

In 2010, Myers was a runaway staying in Nipomo with an older woman named Rhonda Wisto. During the murder trial in 2013, prosecutor Tim Covello said that Wisto and her son Jacob York were associated with street gangs and ran a safe house where methamphetamine was sold and consumed. Covello suggested, according to prior New Times reporting, that Wisto ordered York and his friends to kill Myers because she knew too much about the group's activities and was supposedly disrespectful to Wisto.

Greenwell, who was 20 at the time, and accomplices York, Cody Miller, and Michael Hill beat up Myers with baseball bats and brass knuckles in Wisto's Nipomo mobile home. The group, which included Wisto, then injected Myers with drugs before driving her out to Santa Margarita, where her hogtied body was burned in a pit.

Prosecutors claimed that Myers died of suffocation due to a glove that was shoved down her throat prior to the drive. Cal Fire employees found her partially burned remains soon after, according to Dow's July 27 letter to Newsom.

"Inmate Greenwell ... confessed to police two days later," Dow wrote. "He testified against two of his codefendants at trial. He was given a negotiated sentence of 15 years to life in May 2013."

Held in state prison, Greenwell was the only group member who didn't receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Wisto, York, and Hill are serving their sentences in Chowchilla, Lancaster, and San Diego, respectively. Miller died by suicide in the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi in 2016.

One of Dow's reasonings to Newsom for parole reversal was that Greenwell had only served 13 years in prison. At the time of his sentencing, he had to serve at least 15 years before being eligible for parole. But that changed with the approval of Proposition 57 in 2016. That initiative gave early parole rights to criminals convicted of violent crimes.

Dow also stated that Greenwell continued criminal behavior even in prison, specifically consuming methamphetamine as recently as on his last birthday.

Newsom's decision document zeroed in on Greenwell's remarks to the parole board at his hearing this year. He said he would avoid interacting with "antisocial peers in the community" if he was released.

"It will take more than mere avoidance," Newsom wrote. "I encourage Mr. Greenwell to further develop his support systems and plans for developing positive community ties." Δ

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