AKRON, Ohio – The alleged mastermind of a deadly plot to lure robbery victims with phony Craigslist job offers faces a possible death sentence at his trial in the deaths of three men and wounding of a fourth.
Prosecutors have portrayed Richard Beasley, 53, whose murder trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday, as an ex-con street preacher in Akron and mentor to a teenager convicted in the plot.
Brogan Rafferty, who was then 17, was sentenced to life in prison in November after being found guilty in the plot. Because of his age, he wasn't eligible for the death penalty.
Beasley has pleaded not guilty to a 27-count indictment.
Prosecutors have asked deputies to bring Rafferty from prison to testify at the trial. At his sentencing, Rafferty said the crimes were horrible but said he didn't recognize any chance to stop the killings.
His defense attorney told the judge that Rafferty is willing to testify against Beasley. He said his client wouldn't stand convicted if it wasn't for Beasley.
The jury rejected the defense claim that Rafferty feared for himself and his family if he didn't cooperate with Beasley.
Prosecutors say the victims, all down in their luck and with few family ties that might highlight their disappearance, were lured with phony offers of southeast Ohio farmhand jobs on Craigslist in 2011.
The murdered men were Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon. The lone survivor, Scott Davis, was shot in the arm, knocked the weapon aside and fled into the woods.