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Psychologist hired to provide mitigation testimony for 1 of 6 convicted in Greensburg torture slaying

| Friday, May 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
A Westmoreland County Prison provided photo shows Melvin Knight, convicted in the 2010 torture-murder of a mentally challenged teenager.

Taxpayers will pay up to $10,000 for a psychologist hired by the defense to provide mitigation testimony in the upcoming sentencing trial for Melvin Knight, one of six Greensburg roommates convicted in the February 2010 torture slaying of a mentally disabled woman.

Knight, 27, formerly of Swissvale was sentenced to death in 2012 for his role in the fatal torture of Jennifer Daugherty, 30, of Mt. Pleasant. A state appeals court last year vacated the sentence.

Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway on Friday approved a request from new court-appointed defense attorneys Jim Robinson and Tim Dawson to hire Jennifer R. Wynn, a criminologist and mitigation specialist at City University of New York.

Wynn will be tasked with finding evidence from Knight's background that can be used to convince a jury to impose a sentence of life in prison rather than death by lethal injection.

The judge ordered that Wynn's pay be capped and that she submit monthly invoices billed at $100 per hour.

Hathaway said last month jury selection will begin Sept. 25 and she will allot two weeks for the penalty phase, which is to begin on Oct. 16.

Five codefendants in the case may be called to testify, Dawson said last month.

Dawson plans to call psychologists, family members, friends and anyone who can support the mitigating factors admissible in a death sentencing, he said.

Knight is being held at SCI Greene near Waynesburg.

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