The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 4, 2013

Death penalty trial set in Greensburg torture-killing

GREENSBURG — Opening statements are set in the death penalty trial of a man charged with instigating the torture killing of a mentally disabled Westmoreland County woman in February 2010.

The defense attorney for 26-year-old Ricky Smyrnes, of Greensburg, has argued his IQ is too low for him to be executed, but a Westmoreland County judge last year rejected Smyrnes' offer to plead guilty but mentally ill in the death of Jennifer Daugherty.

Instead, Smyrnes will stand trial Monday on charges he and five others tortured Daugherty in a dingy Greensburg apartment before killing her and dumping her body. Another co-defendant has already been sentenced to death, and another to life in prison, while three others are awaiting trial.

District Attorney John Peck wants the jury to find Smyrnes guilty of first-degree murder and sentence him to death.

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