A Summit County judge has upheld a jury's verdict, sentencing craigslist killer Richard Beasley to death.
AKRON, Ohio - A man who says he was wounded by gunfire but escaped testified Tuesday as prosecutors began trying to show that robbery and identity theft were motives behind attacks two years ago that left three men in Ohio dead. All four were lured by phony Craigslist job offers.
Scott Davis stepped down from the witness stand and stood in front of alleged triggerman Richard Beasley to identify him as the attacker. Davis also said he remembered a tattoo on Beasley's arm.
Beasley, 53, has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping and other charges. His trial began Monday in an Akron courtroom.
"He wanted a new identity and he got it," prosecutor Emily Pelphrey told jurors Monday in an opening statement as she outlined the evidence against Beasley, an ex-convict who slumped in his wheelchair without looking at Pelphrey. Beasley has back problems.
His attorney, James Burdon, said there isn't enough evidence to convict Beasley. He said the defense would try to show that the survivor attacked Beasley first, not the other way around.
In what appeared to be the first such mention in the case, Burdon also said the defense would try to show that Beasley had posted the Craigslist ads at the behest of a man with a violent criminal history. He didn't detail the circumstances.
Beasley, who was dressed in a dark suit, could face the death penalty if convicted.
In a 40-minute opening statement Monday, Pelphrey showed jurors photos of the victims and, without identifying the teen, a photo of Beasley hugging his co-defendant, Brogan Rafferty, 18.
Rafferty, who thought of Beasley as a mentor and friend, was convicted last year and was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
Rafferty, too young at the time of the crimes to be eligible for the death penalty, has agreed to testify against Beasley. It was unclear whether his testimony could lead to a sentence reduction.
At his sentencing, Rafferty said the crimes were horrible but he didn't see any chance to stop the killings. Rafferty said he feared Beasley would kill him and his family members if he tipped off police.
If Beasley is convicted of aggravated murder, the same jury would hear evidence on whether to recommend that the judge impose the death sentence. Any sentencing proceeding likely would begin April 8, the judge said.
Prosecutors say the victims, all down on their luck and with few family ties that might highlight their disappearance, were lured with phony offers of farmhand jobs in southeast Ohio through Craigslist ads. The slain men were Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon.
The lone survivor, Davis, was shot in the arm and fled into the woods. Davis, of South Carolina, was looking to move closer to his family in the Canton area.
He fled into the woods in Noble County after hearing the click of a handgun, getting shot in the arm, and pushing the weapon aside.
When the prosecutor outlined how Kern was killed, his father, Jack Kern, sitting in the front row of the public gallery, wiped his eyes and shifted in his seat as he listened.
"He was shot in the back of the head," said Pelphrey, who showed a Nov. 13, 2011, parking lot surveillance photo of Kern, apparently the last time he was seen alive. He was shot later that morning, Pelphrey said.
Burdon signaled that the defense would challenge the prosecution's contention that Davis was attacked first by Beasley while walking at the farm and discussing a $300-a-week job. "We think the evidence will show the opposite," Burdon said.
A triple killer who lured victims with bogus job offers on Craigslist faced a possible death sentence before an Ohio judge deciding his punishment.
A Summit County judge has rescheduled craigslist killer Richard Beasley sentencing.
A judge in Ohio must make a life-or-death decision in sentencing a self-styled street preacher for the murders of three down-and-out men lured by Craigslist job offers. You can watch a live stream on newsnet5.com or app.
Jurors have recommended that Richard Beasley, the man convicted of murdering men by luring them with a phony craigslist job ad, die for the crimes.
Life or death? Jurors will reveal at 6 p.m. whether craigslist killer Richard Beasley will live or die.
Jurors are now deliberating the fate of craigslist killer Richard Beasley, deciding whether he will live or die.
The sentencing phase begins on Wednesday for the Akron man convicted of killing three after luring them with fake craigslist job postings.
The mother of convicted murderer Richard Beasley thought he would be found innocent in the craigslist murder case.
A self-styled street preacher accused in a deadly plot to lure men with phony craigslist job offers and then rob them was found guilty of aggravated murder and could face the death penalty.