Trial set in fatal torture of Pa. disabled woman

When the youngest of six defendants charged in the torture death of a mentally disabled woman goes to trial Monday, she'll try to prove that it wasn't a fit of jealous pique that inspired the ki...

When the youngest of six defendants charged in the torture death of a mentally disabled woman goes to trial Monday, she'll try to prove that it wasn't a fit of jealous pique that inspired the killing.

Angela Marinucci, 18, of Greensburg, concedes she was involved in the death of Jennifer Daugherty, 30, according to her lawyer.

Prosecutors say Daugherty was bound with Christmas lights by people she thought were here friends, then beaten, forced to drink urine and detergent and then stabbed to death on Feb. 9, 2010. Her mangled body was found two days later, stuffed into a plastic garbage container and left beneath a truck in a school parking lot in Greensburg, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Authorities said Daugherty, described by her family as having the mental capacity of a 12- or 14-year-old, was found with her head shaved and her face painted with nail polish.

Marinucci, who was 17 at the time, is being tried separately from the others after dropping her fight to have her case tried in juvenile court.

Marinucci and her lawyer Michael DeMatt will try to convince the jury that she wasn't the instigator but a lesser player in Daugherty's grisly demise, said DeMatt.

Greensburg police and District Attorney John Peck have said that Marinucci was sexually involved with the man most of the other defendants have identified as the ringleader of the killing, Ricky Smyrnes, 25, a small-time criminal. They allege that the others attacked and systematically tortured Daugherty after a jealous Marinucci learned that Smyrnes had also had sex with Daugherty.

"That's exactly what the district attorney is going to be saying to the jury, and that's going to be their theory of the case, and we disagree with that," DeMatt said.

He wouldn't comment on Marinucci's relationship with Smyrnes, but said, "The relationships involved here are complicated and I think it's overly simplistic to put it the way the district attorney is putting it."

DeMatt said he'll wait until trial to reveal Marinucci's version of events.

But testimony and police statements that have emerged during pretrial hearings have most heavily implicated Smyrnes and his friend Melvin Knight, 21.

Smyrne's attorney has argued that his client's IQ is so low, he cannot be executed under a U.S. Supreme Court decision barring the death penalty for the mentally disabled.

In recorded statements played at their preliminary hearing last year, Knight and Smyrnes both said the group was angry with Daugherty because she wanted to have sex with Smyrnes while she visited them at an apartment.

Bobby Murphy, the victim's stepfather, has said he dropped her off at a bus station on Feb. 8 for the 10-mile trip to Greensburg, where she had a medical appointment. She also had friends there she had made through a community center.

Murphy said his stepdaughter called home later to say she planned to spend the night and would return home the next day.

Instead, according to police, she was tied up sometime that night, beaten with a towel rack, vacuum cleaner hose and a crutch, and bound with Christmas decorations. She was fed vegetable oil, medications and spices in addition to laundry detergent and urine. At some time during the ordeal, police said Daugherty was even forced to write a purported suicide note.

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