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Greensburg teen to be tried as adult in Daugherty murder

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Monday, April 11, 2011

An 18-year-old woman accused of ganging up with five other suspects to kill a mentally challenged woman in a Greensburg apartment will be tried as an adult.

Defense Attorney Michael DeMatt, who represents Angela Marinucci, this morning withdrew a petition to have her case transferred to juvenile court in the February 2010 death of Jennifer Daugherty, who was beaten, tortured for more than two days and then stabbed.

Daugherty's body, tied with Christmas decorations and wrapped in garbage bags, was found in a garbage can at the parking lot of Greensburg Salem Middle School on Feb. 11.

“After reviewing everything and speaking with my client, we decided it was not in her best interest to proceed” with the transfer, DeMatt said following a brief hearing before Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway.

Marinucci took the stand to testify that she understood and agreed with her attorney's decision.

“I felt comfortable to deny (withdraw),” she told Hathaway.

Bobby Murphy, Daugherty's step-father, said, “It's a tremendous victory for the family and for Jennifer.”

Joy Burkholder, Daugherty's sister, said Marinucci “will not be put to death ... if she doesn't want to spend her life in jail, she shouldn't kill people.”

District Attorney John Peck, who is seeking the death penalty against three of the suspects, was not immediately available for comment.

Marinucci, a former Greensburg Salem High School student who was 17 years old at the time of Daugherty's murder, is not eligible for the death penalty due to her age.

She was living with the five other suspects who allegedly abused and murdered Daugherty when she came to their apartment for a visit.

Marinucci, along with Ricky V. Smyrnes, 24; Melvin Knight, 20; Amber Meidinger, 20; Peggy Darlene Miller, 27; and Robert Loren Masters, 36, are charged with first-degree homicide, kidnapping and related charges.

Peck is seeking the death penalty against Smyrnes, Knight and Meidinger.

Marinucci has a history of mental illness and no prior criminal record, according to DeMatt.

“If a plea deal is out there, I would be more than happy to explore all options,” DeMatt said. “We are preparing for trial.”

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