By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday reversed a parole board decision to grant parole to Jason Greenwell, one of the killers of 15-year-old runaway Dystiny Myers.
In Sept. 2010, firefighters found Myers’ body burned and buried in a shallow grave near Santa Margarita with her legs bound behind her, sweatpants tied around her throat and a glove stuffed in her mouth.
Greenwell was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013. He was the only defendant to testify in the Myers murder trial. In exchange for his testimony, the district attorney’s office agreed to make him eligible for parole after 15 years.
The other four defendants each received sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole for their involvement in Myers’ murder.
In Nov. 2021, the parole board ruled Greenwell was suitable for parole. Following the hearing, parole board’s legal office reviewed the decision and approved of it.
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow, though, wrote a letter to Gov. Newsom in December, urging him to reverse the parole board decision. Newsom did so on Tuesday, stating in his decision that Greenwell would pose an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison now.
“Mr. Greenwell and his crime partners brutally killed a vulnerable teenaged girl,” Newsom wrote in his decision to deny the Myers killer parole. “More than a decade after the crime, however, Mr. Greenwell describes his role in the murder as if he stumbled upon the crime and aimlessly joined in. He admitted to the parole board in 2021 that he left the scene of the crime briefly but chose to return.”
The governor also wrote that Greenwell failed to articulate the internal causative factor that led to him participating in the murder.
“While I recognize Mr. Greenwell’s remorse and improving accountability for his life crime, he must do additional work to deepen his insight into the causative factors of his crime before he can be safely released on parole. In particular, I encourage Mr. Greenwell to focus on developing a deeper understanding of his triggers for substance use, and its nexus to his violent conduct,” Newsom wrote.
After receiving the governor’s decision, Dow released a statement applauding Newsom for denying Greenwell parole.
“I am grateful for Gov. Newsom’s decision to reverse the Board of Parole Hearings’ decision,” Dow said in the statement. “We agree with the governor’s conclusion that Greenwell currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time.”
During the Myers murder trial, Greenwell testified that Rhonda Wisto, who was housing the teenage girl at the time, ordered the murder and that Ty Hill helped plan the killing.
Wisto, as well as her son Frank York, stood trial and received first-degree murder convictions with torture and kidnapping enhancements. Hill accepted a plea deal of life in prison without parole in order to avoid the death penalty.
Cody Miller, the fifth defendant, also agreed to a plea deal resulting in life in prison without the possibility of parole. Miller, however, requested that he not receive eligibility for parole because he said he did not belong in society. In 2016, Miller committed suicide.
As part of his testimony, Greenwell passed on Myers’ final words as she was beaten to death.
“She said, tell her mom that she loved her,” Greenwell said.