Opening statements under way in accused craigslist killer Richard Beasley's trial

Akron man could get death penalty if convicted

AKRON, Ohio - A Summit County jury listened to opening statements Monday afternoon in the trial of Richard Beasley, the alleged mastermind of "craigslist killings."

An all-white jury of eight men and four women was impaneled after four days of jury selection.

During opening statements, Emily Pelphrey, a special prosecutor with the Ohio Attorney General's office, referred to Beasley as "a wolf in sheep's clothing."

Pelphrey told the jury that Beasley even stole the identity of one of his victims, Ralph Geiger, and applied for a job as Geiger a month after he was murdered and buried in Noble County.

Beasley's attorney, Jim Burdon, said during his opening statement that Beasley is "not a saint", but also innocent of the charges in the indictment.

Beasley, 53, of Akron, could face the death penalty if convicted.

Beasley is accused of creating a bogus craigslist ad and luring men, down on their luck, to a job that promised work on a farm in southern Ohio.

Three men, Geiger, of Akron, David Pauley, of Norfolk Va., and Timothy Kern, of Massillon, were shot, killed and buried in shallow graves in 2011.

The bodies of Geiger and Pauley were found in Noble County. Kern was buried behind Rolling Acres Mall in Akron.

Pelphrey promised the jury compelling evidence.

"You're going to hear testimony of a letter that this defendant wrote to someone, and in that letter, he describes where victims' things were buried. And as if that letter wasn't enough, he drew a map," Pelphrey said.

A fourth man, Scott Davis from South Carolina, was also shot, but survived. Prosecutors plan to call Davis to the stand so he can testify about his "horrific ordeal."

During his opening statement, defense attorney Jim Burdon challenged the state's case.

"The reason that we are here today telling you as earnestly as we can that the defendant is innocent is because all of the evidence, all of the evidence, is not compelling," Burdon said;.

Brogan Rafferty, a 17-year-old former Stow-Munroe Falls High School student, went on trial last October. He testified he dug graves for the victims and was too scared of Beasley to report the murders to anyone, including the police.

A jury found him guilty on several counts, including aggravated murder, and he's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Rafferty is on the prosecution's witness list and could provide crucial testimony against Beasley.

During Rafferty's trial, Davis testified he was shot in the elbow, and then hid in a wooded area for several hours before seeking help at a nearby home in Noble County.

The trial could last several weeks.

Keep checking newsnet5.com for the latest on this case.

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