TribLIVE

| News


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Smyrnes defense claims mental disability

Tribune-Review
A Westmoreland County jury has decided that Ricky Smyrnes should be put to death for the torture murder of a mentally challenged woman. File photo

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Prospective jurors who will hear evidence in the capital murder trial of Ricky Smyrnes will be asked by the defense to find him mentally disabled.

Defense attorney Terrance Faye, while questioning potential panelists this week, told would-be jurors that Smyrnes' mental abilities would be a key part of the case.

Smyrnes, 26, formerly of Irwin and McKeesport, is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 11, 2010, torture-slaying of 30-year-old Jennifer Daugherty, a mentally challenged woman from Mt. Pleasant.

Prosecutors contend Smyrnes was the ringleader of six Greensburg roommates who held Daugherty captive for more than two days, tortured her and stabbed her to death.

Smyrnes' defense team wants the jury to find Smyrnes mentally disabled, which would make him ineligible for the death penalty.

Prospective jurors are being told by the defense that Smyrnes must be found disabled under the law if he meets three criteria.

During the trial, the defense will have to prove that Smyrnes has limited intellectual function; that his adaptive behavior is significantly limited; and that his mental condition was recognized before he turned 18.

The prosecution is expected to argue that the Daugherty murder was so heinous that Smyrnes deserves to be put to death for his role in the slaying. Prosecutors contend that Smyrnes is not mentally impaired.

Several psychologists are listed among the more than 60 witnesses expected to be called to testify during the trial.

Lawyers on Tuesday selected for the jury two men: A 22-year-old equipment services technician from Latrobe and a 45-year-old retail salesman from Hempfield, and a 50-year-old Scottdale woman who works as a registered nurse in a group home for mentally and physically challenged men.

In all, seven jurors have been selected for the trial.

Jury selection will continue on Wednesday and testimony is scheduled to start on Feb. 4.

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

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Man takes rifle from Jeannette police car
  2. Pollution may be cause of sky’s colored streaks in Westmoreland
  3. Identities of theft suspects sought by Penn Township and state police
  4. Grant program targets 7 Westmoreland County towns, including Greensburg, for revitalization
  5. Girl, 8, hit by truck in North Irwin, breaks leg
  6. Westmoreland judge: Contact with advocacy group won’t hamper fairness in drug trial
  7. 1 injured in Mt. Pleasant Twp. accident
  8. Latrobe-Unity parks department seeks grant; revamp to cost $112K
  9. Mt. Pleasant Scout creates drop box for flag disposal
  10. Contract talks to start this week for prison union in Westmoreland
  11. Machine operator avoids serious injuries in accident in North Huntingdon
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.