Melvin Knight has been called one of the worst criminals in the history of Pennsylvania, but this week, the 30-year-old man begged for mercy after being convicted of forcing a disabled woman to drink urine and eat feces before raping and murdering her.
Knight had been convicted of killing Jennifer Daugherty, a woman with learning disabilities. As the Sun noted, Knight and five others kidnapped the 30-year-old woman and held her in an apartment for two days, torturing and raping her before finally stabbing the woman to death. The group also forced the woman to drink a concoction of urine and feces. After she was killed, they wrapped her body in Christmas lights and garland, and dumped her body in a high school park, the report noted.
The grisly killing took place in February 2010, but the court saga just came to an end this week as an appeal jury deliberated over Knight’s fate. As the Sun noted, Knight “begged” jurors to spare his life, with a lawyer arguing that he was too mentally challenged to face execution.
But prosecutors noted that Knight had therapy and medication to help him in life and suffered no cognitive defects from his disabilities.
“Melvin Knight’s background was difficult, but people worked hard to make him a suitable member of society,” said District Attorney John Peck at the sentencing hearing, via CBS Pittsburgh.
The crime shocked the state, and the media dubbed the killers the “Greenburg 6,” with their trials garnering statewide attention. Melvin Knight had originally been sentenced to death for Daugherty’s murder, but it was overturned on appeal and he started a new hearing this year. The hearing came with even more media attention, with daily coverage of the proceedings.
During the hearing, jurors listened to audio of Melvin Knight’s confession, in which he showed remorse for the woman’s murder and said that another one of the killers had been the ringleader.
Knight’s lawyer said that the recording was helpful to their case and appeal to jurors to spare the man’s life.
“We were happy to hear that because Melvin Knight showed some remorse in the confession,” noted Knight’s defense attorney, Tim Dawson. “I think it helped us with the fact that Ricky Smyrnes was the leader of the pack and the Charles Manson in the scenario.”
Melvin Knight’s appeals to the jury did not work, however. They decided that he and two of his accomplices should die by lethal injection. The three others involved in her torture and murder have been sentenced to 30 years to life behind bars.