It was the evening of Sept. 26, 2010, and 15-year-old Dystiny Myers told her companions she was packing her bags and leaving the Nipomo mobile home where they were gathered. Minutes later, she was shot up with heroin, bound with tape, and brutally beaten.
That’s according Jason Greenwell, who also admitted on March 14 to participating in the actions that led to Myers’ death and has been testifying for the prosecution against fellow defendants Jacob York and Rhonda Wisto.
Greenwell, the D.A.’s key witness in the case, gave his account during the second week of testimony in the torture and murder trial involving five defendants, all of whom are connected to what the prosecutors called a “budding criminal enterprise” centered on methamphetamine. Prosecutors allege Myers was killed because members of the group believed she was disrespectful and might have been stealing from them.
Jurors were also shown footage of York reluctantly telling his version of events to two sheriff’s detectives in September 2010. York recounted that Ty Hill—who’s already serving a life prison term after pleading guilty—forced the group to beat Myers in York’s bedroom and then to go to Santa Margarita to dispose of her body.
“I saw the whole fucking thing,” a weeping York told investigators on the video. “It was pretty sick.”
Greenwell later recounted a similar chain of events on the stand, though his testimony indicated York was more involved than York revealed in the video shown in court.
On the stand, Greenwell recalled he heard York tell Wisto that he didn’t want to carry out the murder, but that Wisto replied, “Sometimes things just have to happen.”
Greenwell said that just prior to the beating that led to her death, Myers told the group she was leaving, after which Hill told them all to put on dark clothes and gloves, and they followed her into York’s room. Greenwell stated that when he entered, he saw Myers bound at the wrists with tape and “out of it,” adding that Hill later told him she had been “slammed” with a dose of heroin.
The others took turns beating her with a baseball bat, brass knuckles, and fists, before placing a still-breathing Myers in a bag and taking her to Santa Margarita, Greenwell said; he admitted to holding Myers down during the attack.
During cross-examination, defense attorneys Michael Cummins and Gerald Carasco attempted to poke holes in Greenwell’s testimony, reading back statements he initially made to investigators that later proved false. Cummins earlier described Greenwell as a “serial liar,” motivated by a lighter sentence in testifying against his former friends. In exchange for his testimony, Greenwell is to receive a minimum of 15 years in prison.
Greenwell added that the last thing Myers said was for the group to tell her mom she loved her. At those words, Myers’ sobbing mother ran from the courtroom. Greenwell also teared up.
While the jury was in recess on March 18, another defendant, Cody Miller, reneged on earlier agreement with prosecutors to testify in exchange for a reduced sentence. Then, on March 19, he pleaded guilty to all charges against him—including numerous enhancements—and was promptly sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The prosecution has rested, and testimony for the defense is expected to continue March 22.