AKRON, Ohio - Brogan Rafferty took the witness stand around 9:45 Tuesday morning. His attorney is trying to convince the jury that Rafferty was under duress from Richard Beasley when he allegedly committed crimes in connection with the craigslist killings.
Rafferty testified he was introduced to Beasley through his father, Michael Rafferty, who considered
Beasley a good friend.
Between the ages of 8-10, Rafferty, now 17, said he began to go to church with Beasley. "He became my spiritual mentor and counselor of sorts," Rafferty said, also saying he thought Beasley was a great guy and "like the father I never had."
Rafferty testified he didn't have any indication that Beasley would cause harm to anyone. However, Rafferty said his opinion eventually changed.
"That was the morning that he murdered a man in front of me," Rafferty said, telling jurors he drove down to southern Ohio with Beasley and Ralph Geiger of Akron.
Rafferty said the three of them walked through an overgrown area looking for "a trailer path" that would lead to a farm. During that walk, Rafferty said Beasley pulled out a gun and shot Geiger in the back of the head.
"I didn't think it was real. It was as if I had immediately slipped into a dream," Rafferty said.
When defense attorney John Alexander asked Rafferty what he was thinking, Rafferty said, "I said to myself, Oh my God."
He also testified that he felt like he had "ice in my veins" and had "animal fear." Rafferty said he was ordered by Beasley to dig a hole for Geiger. After the body was buried, Rafferty said Beasley pointed a knife at him and told him that he knew where Rafferty's mother and sister were.
Rafferty said he took that as a threat to his family. "If I did anything, that he didn't like, that he would kill them." Rafferty said he no options to escape and didn't tell the police because he had "no faith in them."
He testified that his only choice was "to go with it or die."
In the middle of October of 2011, Rafferty said he dug another hole in that same wooded area. "I thought it was for me," Rafferty said.
Instead, Rafferty testified that Beasley shot and killed David Pauley of Virginia. Rafferty admitted he helped bury Pauley.
Alexander asked Rafferty it he had any other option. "That or die," Rafferty said.
Rafferty went on to detail what he knew about the attempted murder of Scott Davis, of South Carolina, and Timothy Kern of Massillon. He said Beasley went into the woods and shot Davis, but he escaped.
"Mr. Beasley said that if we saw him on the road, that I had to run him over with my car," Rafferty explained.
Kern was shot and killed behind Rolling Acres Mall in Akron. Rafferty said Beasley shot Kern twice in the head and was then buried in a grave that had been dug earlier by Rafferty.
Alexander: "Did you want Mr. Kern to die?"
Rafferty: "No. He was a very nice guy."
Rafferty said he was horrified by the murders and that he "felt like a piece of my soul was ripped out."
When the defense attorney asked again why Rafferty didn't go for help, he said, "I was there to do
whatever Beasley wanted until my time ran out."
During cross examination prosecutor Paul Scarsella attacked the duress defense, while pointing out that Rafferty had months to report the crimes.
At the end of questioning, there was this exchange between Scarsella and Rafferty:
Scarsella: "You never called the police?"
Scarsella: "You never told your father?"
Scarsella: "You never told your mother?"
Rafferty: "No, sir."
The trial will resume on Wednesday when the defense is expected to call at least one more witness.
NewsChannel5's Bob Jones is in the courtroom. Keep checking newsnet5.com for updates.