Killer sentenced to death 'would like to get married'

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GREENSBURG, Pa. —

A judge formally sentenced a man to death on Friday for his involvement in the torture and slaying of a mentally disabled Greensburg woman.

After only two hours of deliberations Thursday, a jury of 12 unanimously decided that Melvin Knight, 22, should be put to death for his crimes.

Channel 11's Courtney Brennan was inside the courtroom when the decision was announced. She said Knight showed no emotion as his fate was read. During Knight's formal sentencing on Friday, Brennan reported that his family sobbed and yelled, "we love you." Knight responded by saying he loved them too.

The judge closed the fast proceeding by saying to Knight, "May God have mercy on your soul."

Family members of Jennifer Daughtery cried and said they are not only looking for justice, but also closure and peace.

"They didn't just come and do their civic duty, they saw some of the most gruesome things they'll ever see in their life these last two weeks," said Daughtery's sister Joy Burkeholder.

WPXI has learned about a handwritten letter Knight recently sent from jail.

The letter stated "I am incarcerated with my fiancé and we would like to get married but in order to do that we must obtain a marriage license..."

The timing of the letter is strange, because just last week, Meidinger testified against Knight in his death penalty trial.

Knight's lawyers wouldn't comment on the letter.

Knight was the second person to be tried and sentenced in this case. Authorities said Knight and his five roommates held Daugherty captive in their Greensburg apartment for more than two days, where she was beaten, tortured and fatally stabbed.

The jury said the torture Knight inflicted was an aggravating circumstance that helped them choose death over life in prison.

"It was alleged that the torture happened over a number of days, perhaps as long as two days, and I think the jury was impressed by that, the harm that it brought to this woman who was an innocent victim in this case," said District Attorney John Peck.

Last May, Angela Marinucci was sentenced to life in prison for her involvement in the gruesome crime. Four other co-defendants, Ricky Smyrnes, Amber Meidinger, Robert Masters and Peggy Miller, are still awaiting trial.

Smyrnes and Meidinger both face the death penalty.

Daughtery's family members said they are ready to face them.

"I know it's really hard to get a death penalty verdict and since this one did maybe the next two won't make us so nervous, cause like you don't what's going to happen," said Burkeholder.

Pennsylvania has executed only three people since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976. All of them chose to end their appeals. The last person executed was a man who murdered two women. He was executed in 1999.

 

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