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Doctors describe Daugherty killer as paranoid, psychotic


GREENSBURG, Pa. - Melvin Knight was a paranoid and psychotic teenager who became easily frustrated and had impulse control problems, two defense experts testified Tuesday morning.

The defense continued its efforts to convince a Westmoreland County jury that Knight's life should be spared. Prosecutors want jurors to condemn Knight, 22, to death for the Feb. 11, 2010, torture and slaying of Jennifer Daugherty, a 30-year-old mentally disabled woman from Mount Pleasant.

Dr. Dale Hindmarsh testified that as a 10th- and 11th-grader, Knight, formerly of Swissvale, was diagnosed with paranoia and psychotic disorders. “He improved slightly when he was on his medication,” Hindmarsh said.

Knight was born to a single mother, didn’t walk until age 14 months, didn’t talk until he was 2 years old and wet the bed until he was 5, Hindmarsh told jurors.

Dr. Michael McCue, a clinical neuropsychologist, testified Knight suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and cognitive disabilities. However, McCue said Knight’s intelligence is in the average range.

Tested last year, Knight’s IQ was 84. But an intelligence test administered in 2002, when Knight was 13, determined his intelligence was significantly higher -- 96, McCue said.

“Melvin is an individual with significant disabilities, and they had a significant impact on his functions,” McCue said.

The prosecution contends that Knight should be put to death because he tortured and raped Daugherty. In April, Knight pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other offenses. Authorities said Knight and his five roommates held Daugherty captive in their Greensburg apartment for more than two days, when she was beaten, tortured and fatally stabbed.

This article was written by Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.