Lawyer: Death penalty not appropriate

Dec. 14, 2010 at 8:12 PM
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GREENSBURG, Pa., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A lawyer for one of the defendants charged with slaying a mentally disabled woman in Pennsylvania argues she was killed quickly and not tortured.

Melvin Knight's attorney said in documents filed Monday that his client should not face a potential death sentence, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Jeffrey Miller also said prosecutors have no proof Knight raped Jennifer Daugherty, 30, before her death.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Knight, 21, Ricky Smyrnes, 24, and Amber Meidinger, 20. Angela Marinucci, 18, Peggy Miller, 27, and Robert Masters, age unavailable, are also charged.

Investigators allege the defendants held Daugherty prisoner for two days in an apartment in Greensburg, beating her and forcing her to drink mixtures that included cleaning products. Eventually, they allegedly held a "family meeting," voted to kill her, and then stabbed her and dumped her body in the trash.

"There is no indication in the record that following the decision to kill Jennifer, that any action was taken to prolong her suffering or to inflict pain for any purpose other than causing her quick death," Miller wrote in his court filing.

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