A Greensburg man pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in the torture killing two years ago of Jennifer Daugherty.
Despite pleading guilty, Melvin Knight, 22, could face the death penalty at a sentencing hearing scheduled before Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Rita Hathaway in August.
Mr. Knight, who was charged along with five others in the case, also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and kidnapping.
Prosecutors say that he was one of the masterminds in the case, in which Ms. Daugherty, 30, was tortured, sexually assaulted and ultimately stabbed to death. Her body was found tied with Christmas lights and wrapped in garbage bags and then stuffed into a garbage can in the parking lot of Greensburg Salem Middle School on Feb. 11, 2010.
District Attorney John Peck is seeking the death penalty against three of the defendants: Mr. Knight, Ricky Smyrnes and Amber Meidinger.
So far, one defendant, Angela Marinucci, has gone to trial. She was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced in August to life in prison without parole.
Ms. Meidinger was the chief prosecution witness in the case and said Ms. Marinucci urged the others to kill Ms. Daugherty as revenge for her interfering in the woman's relationship with Mr. Smyrnes.
Also charged are Robert Masters and Peggy Miller.neigh_westmoreland
First Published April 13, 2012 12:00 AM