Mar 20, 2014 7:35 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News
The family of Dystiny Meyers, who was found dead near Santa Margarita in September 2010, has filed a claim against San Luis Obispo County for not releasing a part of her remains to them for more than three years.
Rhonda Wisto and her son, Frank York, were among five suspects charged in the 15-year-old's murder. They were found guilty of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, and torture in May 2013.
Wisto and York were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Dystiny's family says she was buried in 2011 and claim the District Attorney's Office did not tell them they kept some of her remains during the trial.
A major piece of evidence during the trial was Dystiny's skull, which remains in the custody of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.
County officials say the District Attorney's Office followed the law and acted appropriately, but Dystiny's family says it has caused more pain for the family.
The claim states that the District Attorney's Office presented pictures of Dystiny's skull during the trial last year. It says Dystiny's mother was shocked when they showed the images and she left the courtroom.
The claim says Dystiny's family was told the DA's office kept portions of her body for evidence, but the family says it did not give its consent.
The claim also states that Dystiny's mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized after she learned she may have to rebury the rest of Dystiny's remains.
A prosecutor with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office, which was not involved in prosecuting the case, says it is common in these types of cases for important evidence to be preserved for experts to analyze during the trial, and evidence may also be held if there is an appeal.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley says, "I would keep all evidence I might need. It is always dependent upon the cause of death and possible defenses."
San Luis Obispo Chief Deputy County Counsel Nina Negranti says, "The claim lacks factual or legal merit, and the district attorney's office acted appropriately and as authorized by the law. In the event a lawsuit is filed, it will be vigorously defended by the county."
The claim was filed in August, which was three months after the trial was over. The county rejected it.
There was no dollar amount included in the claim, but if the case were to go to trial it states the family will seek punitive damages.
Myers' family has until March 27 to file a lawsuit.
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