Daugherty's mom, sister testify during Smyrnes's penalty phase trial



GREENSBURG, Pa. - The jury who will decide the penalty against Ricky Smyrnes heard Wednesday from the victim’s mother and sister.

Smyrnes, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the torture death of Jennifer Daugherty, faces the death penalty or life in prison.

Channel 11’s Courtney Brennan reported that Daugherty’s mother and sister told the jury that Jennifer was a sweet soul who wanted to be liked and that she wanted attention, something Smyrnes took advantage of.

Daugherty’s sister, Joy Burkeholder, told the jury that her sister’s death has changed her life forever.

“I hate Christmas. I hate Christmas lights. We have services for her every Feb. 14 and it’s not Valentine’s Day anymore,” Burkeholder said Wednesday. “We cremated her and didn’t bury her because we couldn’t leave her body in that condition.”

Brennan reported court won’t be held Thursday or Friday because of the judge’s schedule. Testimony is scheduled to resume Monday.