Jury Said Smyrnes Is Mentally Competent In Penalty Phase

GREENSBURG (KDKA) — A jury has sentenced the man who investigators call the ringleader of the so-called “Greensburg 6” to the death penalty. The group is accused in connection with the torture and murder of woman in 2010.

It took a jury just under four hours to condemn 26-year-old Ricky Smyrnes to death. It’s a decision that comes after listening to a month of testimony.

Smyrnes showed no emotion as he learned that he would be joining the nearly 200 other inmates on Pennsylvania’s death row.

“Justice is being done,” said Denise Murphy, the victim’s mother. “It’s been a long, long trial, but Jennifer had a voice today.”

Smyrnes was convicted two weeks ago of orchestrating the February 2010 torture and murder of 30-year-old Jennifer Daugherty. The same jury condemned him to death.

“They did a very hard job. I don’t know if I could do that job,” Joy Burkholder, the victim’s sister, said. “They’ve probably seen the most horrific things they’ll ever see in their life this last month. And it takes a pretty special group of people to hang with that.”

Defense attorney Terri Faye tried unsuccessfully to convince jurors that Smyrnes was mentally challenged, a decision that would have made him ineligible for the death penalty.

She said: “I am disappointed in the verdict. I fail to see how a person who has had the horrific background this child had isn’t entitled to some mercy in his sentence.”

Smyrnes is the third of the so-called “Greensburg 6” to be brought to justice.

Angela Marinucci is serving life in prison after being convicted in May of 2011. Melvin Knight is on death row after pleading guilty in August of 2012.

“We’re very grateful to the jury for the verdict that they returned,” said Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck. “It’s certainly the proper and appropriate verdict in this case.”

Smyrnes will be back here at 1:30 p.m. Friday for his formal sentencing.

Closing Arguments To Begin Thursday In Smyrnes’ Penalty Phase (2/27/13)
More Reports on the Ricky Smyrnes Trial
More Reports on the Greensburg 6 Case