'Greensburg Six' member gets 40 years in plea deal

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Amber Meidinger, whose testimony in the Jennifer Daugherty torture-slaying case in Greensburg put two conspirators on death row and a third in prison for life, has been rewarded for her help with a 40-year minimum sentence.

Meidinger, 23, a member of the so-called Greensburg Six, originally had faced the death penalty in the 2010 killing that stunned the Greensburg community because of its depravity.

But as part of a plea bargain recommended by the district attorney's office, she pleaded guilty to third-degree homicide Wednesday for her role in the crime.

Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Rita Hathaway sentenced her to 40 to 80 years.

Meidinger was one of six roommates who held Daugherty captive in a squalid Greensburg apartment for two days while torturing her.

Meidinger testified for the prosecution in three trials against Ricky Smyrnes, Melvin Knight and Angela Marinucci.

The prosecution said Smyrnes, 27, was the ringleader while Knight, 24, carried out the actual killing and Marinucci, 21, acted as an instigator because she saw Daugherty as a romantic rival for Smyrnes, her boyfriend.

Meidinger said she and the others beat Daugherty and forced her to drink concoctions of bodily fluids and cleaning supplies.

She testified that Smyrnes then held "family meetings" to take a vote on whether Daugherty should be killed. She said they all voted yes, after which Smyrnes handed Knight a knife and ordered him to stab her.

An autopsy showed Daugherty was stabbed 24 times. After she died, Smyrnes and Knight stuffed her body in a trash can and dumped it at Greensburg Salem Middle School.

During the previous trials, Meidinger said she had not been offered a deal to testify and was doing so on her own initiative.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said Thursday that the case could not have been prosecuted successfully without her but said his office never promised her anything.

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

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


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