Jury gives death penalty in Pa. torture killing

August 30, 2012 - 11:36 PM
Disabled Woman Torture

Joy Burkholder, left, receives a hug from her husband Lance after Melvin Knight is sentenced for the torture and murder of her sister, Jennifer Daugherty at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg, Pa Thursday, August 30, 2012. Heather Smitley, right, hugs Jennifer's mother Denise Murphy. Knight, a man who pleaded guilty to murder in the torture killing of a mentally disabled woman held captive in a dingy western Pennsylvania apartment has been given the death penalty. (AP Photo/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rebecca Droke) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MONESSEN OUT; KITTANNING OUT; CONNELLSVILLE OUT; GREENSBURG OUT; TARENTUM OUT; NORTH HILLS NEWS RECORD OUT; BUTLER OUT

GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A man who pleaded guilty to murder in the torture killing of a mentally disabled woman held captive in a dingy western Pennsylvania apartment has been given the death penalty.

A Westmoreland County jury announced its verdict Thursday against 22-year-old Melvin Knight.

A prosecutor had said Knight deserved the death penalty because his crimes were depraved. A defense attorney had argued Knight's relatively young age and his lack of a prior criminal record were reasons the jury should give him life in prison for what happened at the apartment in Greensburg, east of Pittsburgh.

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