Woman pleads guilty in Greensburg torture death

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The main government witness whose testimony secured convictions against three co-conspirators in the torture-slaying of a mentally challenged woman in Greensburg four years ago will spend at least four decades in prison.

Amber Meidinger, 23, of Greensburg, who had originally faced the death penalty in the killing of Jennifer Daugherty, was sentenced to 40 to 80 years on Wednesday as part of a plea deal that rewarded her for cooperating.

Meidinger pleaded to third-degree homicide for her role in the crime.

She was one of six roommates who held Daugherty captive in a squalid Greensburg apartment, where they took turns beating her and forcing her to drink concoctions of body fluids and cleaning supplies before one of them, Melvin Knight, stabbed her to death.

In separate trials, Meidinger testified at length against Knight and two others, Ricky Smyrnes and Angela Marinucci.

The district attorney's office said  Smyrnes was the ringleader and that Marinucci instigated the attacks because she was jealous of Daugherty's romantic interest in him.

Marinucci, who was 17 at the time of the killing and ineligible for the death penalty, is serving life in prison.

Smyrnes, 27, and Knight, 24, are on death row.

Two others who played lesser roles in the murder, Peggy Miller and Robert Masters, are expected to plead guilty later this month.

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.

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