Sentencing postponed in Craigslist killings
AKRON, Ohio (AP) – The father of one of three men lured by Craigslist job offers and murdered had Tuesday’s sentencing date for the killer etched in his mind: 16 months to the day his son’s body was identified.
Jack Kern, father of Timothy Kern, 47, and relatives of other victims of Richard Beasley, 53, crowded a courtroom Tuesday to hear whether he must face execution, but the case was delayed by an attorney’s illness.
Beasley, wearing a red and white striped jail outfit, clutching a cane and sitting in a wheelchair he uses because of back pain, kept his chin on his chest as he was wheeled into court after a 90-minute delay to hear the postponement.
Family members, briefed in private about the delay by prosecutors, are expected to return for the sentencing rescheduled for April 4.
Last week the jury that convicted Beasley of murder recommended that he be executed. Judge Lynne Callahan has the option of reducing the sentence to life in prison.
Co-defendant Brogan Rafferty, who was 16 at the time of the crimes in 2011, was sentenced by the same judge last year to life without parole. Because of his age, he wasn’t eligible for the death penalty.
One of the victims was killed near Akron, and the others were shot at a southeast Ohio farm during bogus job interviews.
The slain men were Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Kern, of nearby Massillon. All were down-and-out men looking for a fresh start in life, prosecutors said during the trial.
The survivor, Scott Davis, now 49, was looking for work so he could move from South Carolina closer to his family in northeast Ohio.
Davis testified that he heard the click of a gun as he walked in front of Beasley at the reputed job site in Noble County. Davis, who was shot in an arm, knocked the weapon aside, hid in the woods for seven hours and tipped off police.
“I was worried about bleeding to death,” Davis testified.
Beasley took the stand himself at trial and told the court Davis had pulled a gun on him first in retaliation for being a police informant in a motorcycle club investigation.
But Beasley didn’t take the stand during the sentencing phase to appeal for mercy. His attorneys instead called his mother, a psychologist and a friend to press for leniency.
Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel said last week that Ohio reserves the death penalty for “the worst of the worst” and, as such, said Beasley deserves to be executed.
The prosecutor said Rafferty wasn’t called to testify by the state because he wanted a sentence reduction, which prosecutors rejected.
In closing arguments in Beasley’s sentencing phase, both sides highlighted Rafferty’s case: The defense said his life sentence should factor into the jury’s deliberations but prosecutors said it shouldn’t because the teen’s age ruled out the death penalty entirely.
Beasley returned to Ohio from Texas in 2004 after serving several years in prison on a burglary conviction. Rafferty, who had a troubled family life, described Beasley as a friend and mentor.