6 held for trial in Greensburg torture, slaying

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After he ordered her to be bound with Christmas lights and forced her to drink cocktails of pills, urine, feces and soap, Ricky Smyrnes asked Jennifer Daugherty a question, one of his codefendants said.

"Ricky asked if she wanted to die," Melvin Knight told police detectives. "She said no. He said 'Well, why are you letting us do this?' She didn't know."

Detectives played a 30-minute interview with Mr. Knight this morning at a preliminary hearing for six people charged in the Feb. 10 slaying of the mentally disabled woman in a Greensburg apartment. It offered the most detailed picture yet into more than two days of bizarre torture and abuse.

After the day-long hearing, all six defendants were held for trial.

In his interview, Mr. Knight told detectives Mr. Smyrnes had pressured the other defendants into stabbing and beating Ms. Daugherty, 30, of Mount Pleasant, and that if he "had a remote and was able to rewind it back" he'd tell Mr. Smyrnes to "do his own dirty work."

But in a taped interview played this afternoon, Mr. Smyrnes told detectives Mr. Knight threatened to kill him if he did not aid in the slaying.

Mr. Smyrnes told police detectives the group had argued over several days after Ms. Daugherty and Mr. Smyrnes had sex. Another defendant, Angela Marinucci, was especially upset, he said, because she is Mr. Smyrnes' girlfriend.

He resisted Ms. Daugherty after having sex with her one time, he said, and others in the group were put off by her advances.

The arguing accelerated into physical fighting and torture until finally Mr. Knight stabbed Ms. Daugherty in the chest, Mr. Smyrnes said. He told Mr. Smyrnes he would suffer the same fate if he did not stab her in the wrist, discard the steak knife and help Mr. Knight carry away her body, Mr. Smyrnes said.

The group then made a pact not to tell authorities.

Mr. Smyrnes said he initially lied to police, saying he did not know what had happened inside the apartment, and later told them he was afraid that Mr. Knight would kill him if he told the truth.

The hearing was being held before District Judge James Albert in Greensburg. He decided there is enough evidence to hold the six on charges of homicide, conspiracy, aggravated assault and kidnapping.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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