Smyrnes gets scolding for eyeing jurors
Ricky Smyrnes' eye for the ladies caught the attention of a Westmoreland County judge on Monday during the first day of jury selection in his capital murder trial.
Judge Rita Hathaway admonished Smyrnes when she learned from court staff that the defendant, whose involvement in a romantic triangle allegedly led to the torture and slaying of a mentally disabled woman, was eyeing up prospective female jurors.
“Stop attempting to make eye contact with the jurors,” Hathaway told Smyrnes.
Four jurors were selected on Monday for Smyrnes' trial. If he is convicted of first-degree murder, prosecutors will ask for the death sentence.
Smyrnes, 26, formerly of Irwin and McKeesport, is accused of being the ringleader of six Greensburg roommates who allegedly tortured Jennifer Daugherty for more than two days, then stabbed her to death and put her body in a trash can that was abandoned in a snowy Greensburg Salem Middle School parking lot on Feb. 11, 2010.
Smyrnes, who has shoulder-length hair and a full beard, wore a blue shirt and red tie as he sat in a back corner of Hathaway's jury room during the selection process.
Attorneys and Hathaway interviewed 50 prospective jurors from a pool of 73 candidates.
Three women and one man were chosen: A 37-year-old homemaker from Southwest Greensburg, a 58-year-old man who works as a grocery store assistant manager from Ligonier, a 28-year-old Derry woman who works as a substitute teacher and a 38-year-old middle school teacher from Hempfield.
Smyrnes vetoed a decision by defense attorneys Terrance Faye and Mike DeRiso to accept another Derry man. Smyrnes rejected the potential juror upon learning that the man has the same name as someone who signed a petition supporting capital punishment for Smyrnes.
Jurors will begin hearing testimony in the case on Feb. 4. Hathaway told the panel that the trial is expected to take as long as four weeks.
Sixty-six potential witnesses were identified, including co-defendant Amber Meidinger, who has testified against two of the other roommates.
Meidinger, who faces a potential death penalty, was the key witness against her former fiance, Melvin Knight, and 20-year-old Angela Marinucci.
Knight, 23, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to death during a penalty trial in August.
Marinucci, 20, who was ineligible for the death penalty because of her age, was convicted in 2011 of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence.
Prospective jurors for Smyrnes' trial filled out a 63-page questionnaire that asked about their views on the death penalty and mental retardation.
The defense has said it will ask the jury to find that Smyrnes is retarded and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.
Jury selection will continue on Tuesday when about 80 potential jurors are to be questioned.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
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.
- Lineup released for Greensburg concert series
- Budget work ahead for Southmoreland School District
- Fracking foes pack zoning discussion in Ligonier Township
- Dog found shot dead in cardboard box in Derry Township
- Women to stand trial in theft of drugs from Norwin Pharmacy
- New Kensington man gets probation for having teen sex videos
- Ligonier Valley YMCA marks start of 32,000-square-foot expansion
- Westmoreland officials fear loss of impact fees
- Mt. Pleasant’s background colored by entrepreneurial spirit
- Southmoreland School District focused on growing population, boosting achievement among students
- Unity man’s bar pays homage to Latrobe’s Rolling Rock