Feb 7, 2011 9:35 PM by Nancy Chen
15-year-old Dystiny Myers was found wrapped and hog-tied with her arms bound in front of her and legs bent backwards behind her, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department Coroner's Office.
Today was the first day of the preliminary hearing for the five people accused of murdering Myers.
The Santa Maria girl was found badly burned in Santa Margarita last September.
Defendants Cody Miller, Jason Greenwell, Ty Hill, Frank York and Rhonda Wisto have all pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
Stuart MacDonald, who works at the San Luis Obispo County Coroner's Office, says Myers was found in a hole with parts of her body--including her skull--burned beyond recognition.
He pointed to three possible causes of death--blunt force trauma, meth overdose and asphyxiation--but said that choking was the primary cause.
Myers had a pair of sweatpants tied tightly around her neck and a cloth glove stuffed into her mouth.
He said she also had bruising on her body from her face to her legs and fractures on her skull.
An investigator testified that Miller told him the beatings by all five defendants started at Wisto's home in Nipomo.
"She was placed into some type of duffel bag and taken outside the residence and ultimately placed into the back of a pickup truck," said Detective Eric Twisselman, who is with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department.
He said Miller also told him Myers was alive until they reached Santa Margarita.
He said he was forced to beat her, tie her up and carry her to a hole the others had dug.
"Mr. Hill inquired how he knew she was dead, and Cody said that he had rammed a glove down her throat and that he had plucked her eye out," said Santa Maria Police Sgt. Dan Cohen.
A forensic specialist also testified on finding a baseball bat inside Wisto's car along with samurai swords and brass knuckles.
He said he found blood on the bat and a palm print that matched York's.
The judge will hear more testimony tomorrow morning and make a decision on if this case has enough evidence to proceed to trial.
First-degree murder convictions usually carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
However, if a murder happens with special circumstances--like in this case--the defendant becomes eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
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