GREENSBURG, Pa. - After less than three hours of deliberating, a jury found the man accused of orchestrating the torture murder of a mentally disabled Greensburg woman guilty of first-degree murder.
The panel must now decide whether 26-year-old Ricky Smyrnes deserves the death penalty or life in prison.
Smyrnes' attorney, Michael DeRiso, argued that his client has limited intelligence, and he had a psychologist testify that Smyrnes' mother sold him into sexual service to men when he was a child.
Channel 11's Courtney Brennan reported that DeRiso was "loud, demonstrative and emphatic during his closing."
She added that he repeatedly said, "This is a brutal case and an innocent girl was murdered, but Ricky Smyrnes didn't do it."
“We were hoping for second-degree, which is still a mandatory life in prison sentence, based on the compelling expert testimony. I thought the jury would move toward second-degree,” DeRiso said after the verdict was announced.
District Attorney John Peck argued that Smyrnes instigated the 2010 murder of 30-year-old Jennifer Daugherty, a mentally challenged woman from Mount Pleasant.
She was beaten, humiliated and abused by six people, including one already sentenced to life in prison and another to death. Three other defendants remain charged.
Daugherty’s parents told Brennan as they left the courtroom that they’re happy with the outcome.