GREENSBURG (KDKA) — Jurors heard victim impact statements on Tuesday from the family of murder victim Jennifer Daugherty.
This comes on day two of the penalty phase trial of Ricky Smyrnes.
A jury last week found him guilty of first-degree murder and other charges. They must now decide if he will get the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Daugherty’s stepfather, Bobby Murphy, described her as just wanting to be a normal girl. He said she wanted to have friends, get married and maybe someday have children.
She was “lighthearted and happy… she’d do anything in the world you’d ask her to do,” he said.
Daugherty met the “Greensburg 6” at a homeless shelter in Greensburg where she was staying temporarily in order to get an apartment more quickly. She quickly tried to become their friend.
“She always wanted to be part of the group… no matter what that group was,” Joy Burkholder, Daugherty’s older sister, said.
Daugherty’s family says she looked up to her sister Joy, and the two were close growing up.
“She just loved life and being part of anything that was going on around her,” Burkholder said.
Family members say Daugherty was loved by all who knew her.
“She saw the best in everyone. If someone was mean she thought they were having a bad day and she should have been nicer to try and make them happy,” Burkholder said.
For the family, snow reminds them of the day Daugherty’s body was found. Holidays have lost their meaning. This is the first year since the murder that they have decorated for Christmas.
“I didn’t realize at the time how she did add to life until she was murdered. Her absence is indescribable; the music is gone. The sun still shines and the earth still moves, but the music is gone,” Burkholder said.
Burkholder and her mother also described the day they found out their sister and daughter had been murder.
“I was hysterical. I walked out of the room and sat on the floor because I couldn’t stand,” Burkholder said.
Daugherty’s mother, Denise Murphy, told the jury what it was like to identify her daughter’s badly beaten body in a cell phone photo.
“I was in total shock, and still in total denial. I just couldn’t imagine how that could happen to her,” Murphy said.
She told the jury, “I can’t have fun anymore because part of me is gone.”
Jurors also heard from a woman who talked about a time in 2009 when Ricky Smyrnes burglarized West Place, stealing cash and causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Court will resume on Monday.
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