Man guilty of torture-killing

Feb. 14, 2013 at 5:09 PM

GREENSBURG, Pa., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A western Pennsylvania man was convicted of capital murder Thursday for his part in the torture and killing of a mentally challenged woman.

Jurors in Westmoreland County deliberated for less than two hours finding Ricky Smyrnes guilty, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Smyrnes, 26, could receive a death sentence for killing Jennifer Daugherty, 30, of Mount Pleasant, Pa.

The penalty phase of the trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Daugherty's body was found in a trash can outside a Greensburg middle school on Feb. 11, 2010. The body had been draped with Christmas lights and a garland.

In his closing statement, District Attorney John Peck said Smyrnes orchestrated the torture and killing of Daugherty, carrying it out with his five roommates in their Greensburg apartment. Peck called Smyrnes "a conniving, scheming, designing, plotting and conspiracy-minded individual" and said he wanted to show Angela Marinucci, 20, that he loved her.

Smyrnes gave the order before Melvin Knight stabbed Daugherty, Peck said.

Defense lawyer Mike DeRiso, who presented a witness Wednesday who called Smyrnes mildly mentally challenged, argued that Knight was the real mastermind.

Knight has already been sentenced to death and Marinucci to life in prison. Three other defendants are awaiting trial.

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