GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — The state Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty imposed on a man in the torture death of a mentally disabled woman in western Pennsylvania.
A Westmoreland County jury had sentenced Melvin Knight to death by lethal injection in August 2013, but the commonwealth’s highest court ordered a new penalty trial in November 2016 after finding that jurors were not told that Knight had no criminal record. The justices said jurors should have been allowed to consider that as a mitigating factor.
The second penalty phase trial was held in 2018, and Knight again received the death penalty. He then appealed that verdict, claiming it was improper and that errors by Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway warranted the penalty be overturned.
In a unanimous ruling issued this week, the state Supreme Court rejected those claims, finding the verdict was fully supported by the evidence.
Knight, 32, of Swissvale, was one of six people charged in the February 2010 death of 30-year-old Jennifer Daugherty in a dingy Greensburg apartment. Authorities have said she was beaten, tortured and stabbed to death before her body was tied with Christmas lights and garland, stuffed into a trash bin and discarded under a truck in a snow-covered parking lot.
Knight and another man were both sentenced to death, while the other defendants are serving decades in prison.
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