Witness heard 'slamming' noise in apartment before Daugherty murder
A blood-stained bathroom where prosecutors contend Jennifer Daugherty was stabbed four times in the heart was later sanitized by someone, according to a detective who testified Wednesday in the capital murder trial of Ricky Smyrnes.
Forensic Detective Hugh Shearer told a Westmoreland County jury that large amounts of blood had been left on the floor, wall, sink, toilet and shower of the North Pennsylvania Avenue apartment where Daugherty was tortured and killed in February 2010.
“There were haphazard attempts made to clean up this blood,” Shearer told jurors during the third day of testimony in Smyrnes' trial.
Smyrnes, 26, formerly of Irwin and McKeesport, is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy and other offenses in connection with the torture slaying of Daugherty, a 30-year-old mentally challenged woman from Mt. Pleasant. Smyrnes could face the death penalty if he is convicted of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors contend Smyrnes was the ringleader of a group of six roommates who held Daugherty captive for two days, beat her with implements and forced her to drink concoctions of bodily fluids, spices and cleaning supplies before she was stabbed in the heart.
Police have said co-defendant Melvin Knight, at Smyrnes' urging, killed Daugherty in the bathroom.
Shearer testified there was a copious amount of blood in the bathroom, and traces of detergent left behind indicated that someone tried to cover their tracks after disposing of Daugherty's body in a trash can left a few blocks away at Greensburg Salem Middle School.
“There is evidence there was an attempt to clean this blood up,” Shearer testified.
Blood found in the bathroom and on pieces of a metal crutch, towel rack and a knife were linked to Daugherty, Timothy Gavel, a Pennsylvania State Police forensic DNA expert, told jurors yesterday.
Jurors heard testimony from a neighbor who said she heard the sound of a body repeatedly slamming against the floor from the upstairs apartment at the time police said Daugherty was being tortured and killed.
“I heard something on the floor like somebody was slamming the body onto the floor,” said neighbor Floria Headen.
Headen told jurors that she spoke with Smyrnes after she heard the noises from the apartment above.
Smyrnes and a woman came downstairs to ask her to turn down the volume of her television set, she said.
“Ricky told me his girlfriend was upstairs in bed with a headache,” Headen said.
When she told them she would not turn down the volume, Smyrnes “gave me attitude” and left, she testified.
The trial will continue on Thursday before Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
- 4 ejections, benches-clearing scrum mark Pirates’ win over Reds
- Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary
- Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
- Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
- Inside the Steelers: Roethlisberger strong in goal-line drills
- Pa. breeding ground for corruption, experts say
- Pirates notebook: Burnett says ‘surgery is not an option’
- Actress Dushku displaced from Pittsburgh hotel by One Direction
- Blairsville man killed in single-vehicle crash in Derry
- Coal miner Alpha Natural Resources files for bankruptcy