Jury deliberating Myers murder trial
March 22, 2013
BULLETIN: A jury of nine women and three men took only two hours Friday to find Rhonda Wisto and her son Jacob York guilty of all charges.
(Posted earlier) The fate of mother and son defendants on trial for the brutal murder of 15-year-old Santa Maria runaway Dystiny Myers now rests in the hands of a San Luis Obispo jury.
Attorneys for Rhonda Wisto and Jacob York, as well as the prosecution, made closing arguments Thursday. The jury must now determine whether Wisto and York are guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and three criminal enhancements: felony murder, kidnapping murder, and torture murder.
Assistant District Attorney Tim Covello argued that Wisto and York are guilty not just of the murder and conspiracy counts, but also of the murder enhancements.
“Rhonda Wisto and Jacob York are guilty of everything they’ve been charged with,” Covello said.
Covello used the testimony of former defendant Jason Greenwell to argue that Myers died while being kidnapped. Greenwell indicated Monday that Myers was alive inside a duffle bag in the back of the pickup truck that the conspirators used to transport her body from Wisto’s house, where she was beaten, to Santa Margarita, where her body was burned. Greenwell testified that Myers appeared to be alive in the truck bed when the crew stopped at a Pismo Beach gas station, but upon arriving in Santa Margarita, co-conspirator Cody Miller said she was dead because he stuck a sock down her throat.
York’s attorney Gerald Corasco argued that Myers died in the room in which she was beaten inside Wisto’s home. As evidence, Corasco pointed to an interview of Greenwell conducted by sherff’s detectives following the murder, in which the co-conspirator said she died in the room.
“If she died at the house, there is no kidnapping. There is no special circumstance,” Corasco said.
Corasco devoted much of his closing argument to disputing the kidnapping and torture enhancements. He said York incriminated himself in jail while passing notes to another inmate about his involvement in the Myers murder.
“The real issue here is, if he is guilty of murder, in what capacity?” Corasco asked.
But Wisto’s attorney Michael Cummins said the case “is all or nothing.”
“This case is all about Jason Greenwell’s testimony,” Cummins said.
Cummins told the jury to convict Wisto if they believed Greenwell told “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
But, Cummins said, “Jason Greenwell is a serial liar.”
Cummins argued that Greenwell lied repeatedly during interviews with sheriff’s investigators and that his testimony implicating Wisto could not be believed.
“You have no reason to doubt Jason Greenwell,” Covello countered. “Did you ever hear [Cummins] catch him in a lie on the stand?”
During a break in Covello’s argument, Corasco motioned for a mistrial because the assistant district attorney called York a child molester. Corasco said Covello’s allegation was “highly prejudicial” and not based on any evidence.
Judge Barry LaBarbera denied the mistrial motion.
The jury may return with a verdict as soon as today.