Richard James Beasley: Ohio jury recommends Craigslist killer be sentenced to death

(CNN) -- The men jumped at the Craigslist ad for work on an Ohio cattle farm. In tough economic times, it was a job they desperately needed, a chance to pick up some needed cash.

Instead, it cost them their lives.

A Summit County jury opined Wednesday that the man responsible for their deaths -- 53-year-old Richard James Beasley -- should meet the same fate.

After convicting Beasley last week on 26 counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and more, they unanimously recommended that he be sentenced to death.

Summit County Judge Lynne S. Callahan will issue a formal sentence next Tuesday, which could be death if she determines "beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing outweigh the mitigating factors," according to Ohio state law.

Beasley was the man, the jury determined, who pulled the trigger, killing Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron, Ohio; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Virginia; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, Ohio.

Scott Davis apparently was in his cross hairs, too.

After answering an online ad for work on a 688-acre property in eastern Ohio, the South Carolinian in November 2011 told a deputy sheriff how he'd met with two males, then drove toward Stock Township. Told a road was closed due to a landslide, Davis got out of the car and started walking through a heavily wooded area toward what he was informed was where he'd be working.

He turned around "to see a gun pointed at his head," Noble County Sheriff Stephen S. Hannum later explained.

Shot in the arm, Davis ran and hid in the forest for seven hours. Eventually, he got the nerve to go to a house and ask for help.

After he told his story, authorities began to connect it with that of other missing persons. One of them was Kern, killed one week after Davis's escape.

All these men were "down on their luck" and yearning for "a better life," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. Ironically, authorities say that one of Beasley's motive was to steal from them.

He didn't act alone.

Brogan Rafferty was 16 at the time of Kern's death and Davis's escape. His father, Michael, told CNN affiliate WJW in late November 2011 his son had been "manipulated" and "corrupted" when he paired up with Beasley, insisting the teenager was a "mild-mannered gentleman."

The Stow, Ohio, resident was convicted in October on charges of aggravated murder and attempted murder in connection with the killings, WJW reported. He is facing three life sentences without the possibility of parole -- one each for the deaths of Geiger, Pauley and Kern.

All three victims' bodies were found in different shallow graves, in Kern's case behind an Akron mall with a gunshot wound to the head. Michael Rafferty said his son had unwittingly dug the graves at Beasley's direction.

"Beasley is a master manipulator. He manipulated his victims, and then he tried to manipulate the jurors into believing his incredible story of innocence and tales of woe in an effort to spare his life," Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh said in a statement.

"I am glad that the jury was able to see through his lies and recommend an appropriate punishment."

 

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