GREENSBURG, Pa. - The last two defendants in the torture killing of a mentally challenged Pennsylvania woman were sentenced Monday to decades in prison.
Robert Masters, 39, received 30 to 70 years in prison, while his girlfriend, Peggy Miller, 30, was sentenced to 35 to 74 years by a Westmoreland County judge, according to Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.
Both had pleaded guilty in December to third-degree murder and conspiracy charges in the 2010 death of Jennifer Daugherty, 30. She was tortured over two days and held captive before she was killed in an apartment in Greensburg, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.
Masters and Miller were accused of failing to help Daugherty while others abused and killed her.
"But for the acts of omission, we wouldn't be here today," Common Pleas Judge Rita Hathaway told the duo. "I am not going to buy for one second you were afraid of what was going to happen to you. I cannot wrap my head around that."
Attorneys for the couple had argued they were afraid of reprisals had they tried to help Daugherty, especially from the two men now on death row who killed her, Ricky Smyrnes, 28, and Melvin Knight, 24.
Before she died, Daugherty was beaten, had her hair cut, had her purse looted and was forced to drink a vile mixture of human waste, cleaning fluids and prescription drugs, which Smyrnes and the others hoped would kill her.
When Daugherty vomited and survived, the gang of six instead voted to kill her, according to the testimony of Amber Meidinger, who was pregnant with Knight's child at the time but has since given birth. Knight stabbed Daugherty at Smyrnes' request, then choked her with a strand of Christmas lights with Smyrnes' help, Meidinger said.
Meidinger pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and testified against the killers before receiving 40 to 80 years in prison last year, and Angela Marinucci, 22, who is serving a life sentence.
Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck couldn't pursue the death penalty against Marinucci because she was 17 when Daugherty was killed. But the prosecutor contended Marinucci provoked the attack because she was jealous that Smyrnes, her boyfriend, had sex with Daugherty.
Daugherty's body was found wrapped in plastic and stuffed into a garbage can wedged beneath a truck parked in a school parking lot, after Knight and Smyrnes dragged the container several blocks across town during a snowstorm.