Teen convicted in torture death to seek new sentence

| Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

The lawyer for a Greensburg woman convicted in the torture death of Jennifer Daugherty said he will ask that her sentence of life in prison be rescinded under a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Attorney Michael DeMatt said on Tuesday that an appeal will be filed on behalf of 19-year-old Angela Marinucci of Greensburg. It will be based on the court's ruling, released on Monday, that prohibits mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole for juveniles.

“We will raise that issue. I think at this point clearly she is entitled to be resentenced because the Supreme Court said life without parole is unconstitutional for juveniles,” DeMatt said.

Marinucci was 17 when she was arrested more than two years ago in connection with the Feb. 11, 2010, stabbing death of Daugherty. The victim, who was mentally challenged, was held captive in a Greensburg apartment by six people and tortured before she was stabbed to death, police said.

Marinucci will turn 20 next month.

Even though she was a juvenile at the time of her arrest, Marinucci was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole in Pennsylvania.

“The Eighth Amendment (against cruel and unusual punishment) forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the majority decision.

“A judge or jury must have the opportunity to consider mitigating circumstances before imposing the harshest possible penalty for juveniles,” she wrote.

District Attorney John Peck said he did not seek the death penalty against Marinucci because she was a juvenile.

Peck is seeking the death penalty against three others accused in Daugherty's death — Melvin Knight, 22, Ricky Smyrnes, 26, and Amber Meidinger, 22.

DeMatt said that, although Marinucci is entitled to a new sentence, she could still receive significant prison time.

In addition to finding Marinucci guilty of first-degree murder, jurors convicted her of third-degree murder, conspiracy and kidnapping.

Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway could impose consecutive sentences for those offenses, DeMatt said.

That's a solution Peck said he would support. He suggested that ultimately the state Legislature will have to clarify the law in terms of how juveniles convicted of first-degree murder should be sentenced.

Two other Westmoreland County men sentenced to life in prison could be affected by the Supreme Court ruling.

James A. Provitt and Bryan Chambers, both of New Kensington, were convicted in 2003 in the shooting death of Larry Dunmire, whose body was found in Bell Township two years earlier.

Jurors found Provitt guilty of first-degree murder. Chambers was found guilty of second-degree murder.

They were both 17 at the time of their arrest.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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