Co-defendant takes stand against ex-boyfriend in torture, slaying trial

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GREENSBURG, Pa. - A co-defendant in the torture and death of a mentally disabled Greensburg woman will take the stand Tuesday against a man who pleaded guilty to the crime and is now facing the death penalty.

Amber Meidinger is Melvin Knight's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child. Meidinger is awaiting trial herself in the death of Jennifer Daugherty.

Police said Knight and five other people who landed in a Greensburg apartment turned on the victim, who was mentally challenged. She had taken a bus into the city from her Mt. Pleasant home and thought she was spending the night with a group of friends.

After two days of captivity, Daugherty was beaten and abused before she was killed, according to prosecutors.

One of the suspects, Angela Marinucci, now 20, was convicted of first-degree murder last year and was sentenced to life in prison. Meidinger also took the stand during her trial.

During Meidinger’s three-hour testimony Wednesday she talked about how she met Knight at a homeless shelter and they would go from shelter to shelter.

“We went through Daugherty’s purse and then took her phone. Then we dumped mouthwash in it. We were laughing. We thought it was funny,” Meidinger said.

Meidinger said the abuse continued for hours as they force-fed Daugherty concoctions made with bleach and human waste. 

The 30-year-old mentally challenged woman begged them to stop but Meidinger, who was then pregnant with Knight's child, said Knight, “forcibly took Jennifer’s clothes and threw them out the window, then cut her hair off.”

She said Daugherty was then raped.

“Looking back on what happened, the least I can do is tell the truth because being a mom, I would want to know what happened to my kid,” Meidinger said.

Knight pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in April.

Jurors hearing the penalty phase of the trial before Judge Rita Hathaway will be asked to determine whether he should get the death penalty or life imprisonment.

The prosecution contends Knight should be given the death penalty because he tortured and raped Daugherty.

The defense has argued that Knight’s mental illness and hard childhood should spare him.