Attorneys for Ty Hill, the Santa Maria County man facing a possible death sentence for his alleged role in the 2010 kidnapping and murder of Nipomo teenager Dystiny Myers, called roughly a dozen law enforcement and fire officials to the stand in an attempt to suppress statements made by another suspect to first responders.
According to testimony from a number of first responders, co-defendant Cody Miller talked while being treated for injuries he said he sustained at the hands of the other suspects.
Chris Rehs, a seasonal firefighter with Cal Fire who responded to the September 2010 brush fire on Parkhill Road in Santa Margarita, testified that he was the first to make contact with Miller, who he said made statements about being high on methamphetamines and that within the fire was the body of a girl they had burned in a barrel.
“He was coherent, alert, and oriented,” Rehs said. “He knew where he was and what was going on.”
In a case where attorneys for the five defendants are attempting to discredit the others—as well as combat prosecutors—Hill’s attorney, Bill McLennan, argued that Miller’s statements at the time were not “spontaneous,” and therefore not reliable as evidence against his client.
“[Miller’s] initial statements may be delirious, but they’re not spontaneous,” McLennan argued before SLO Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera.
Other fire personnel testified that they attempted to get information out of Miller to determine if more suspects were on site, or if their crews were in danger.
Another CalFire firefighter, Curtis Rhodes, who was also early on the scene, testified that such questioning was part of his situational awareness training.
“I can’t help you unless you give me some kind of facts to go on,” Rhodes said he told Miller. “You’re the only one here, sir, and the way it looks right now … your story doesn’t add up.”
Attorneys for both sides weren’t available for comment, as a gag order has been placed on the proceedings. Arguments on the motion continued in SLO Superior Court as of press time.