Teen guilty in Craigslist killings
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Brogan Rafferty looks on in the courtroom of Judge Lynn S. Callahan in the Summit County Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 in Akron, Ohio after a jury reached a guilty verdict on all accounts in the Craigslist murder trial. Rafferty, an Ohio teenager taken under the wing of a man defense attorneys described as a master manipulator was found guilty of aggravated murder Tuesday for his role in a deadly plot to lure men desperate for work with phony Craigslist job offers. (AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal, Phil Masturzo, Pool)
AKRON, Ohio — Jurors say they didn’t believe Brogan Rafferty’s tale that he was forced to help his spiritual mentor kill three men who responded to a bogus Craigslist help-wanted ad.
And now, the Stow teen is looking at a lifetime in prison after the jury convicted him Tuesday of multiple counts including aggravated murder, attempted murder, robbery and kidnapping.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Lynne Callahan will sentence Rafferty on Monday. Richard Beasley, his mentor and co-defendant, goes on trial in the same courtroom in January.
Rafferty, 17, muttered to reporters, “nothing to say,” as he was escorted to jail to await sentencing.
He testified last week that Beasley, 53, was a longtime influence on his life, but suddenly changed from a religious man to a killer in the summer of 2011. After the first killing in August, Rafferty told jurors that Beasley intimated he would kill the teen’s family if he told authorities.
Two more killings and an attempted killing followed until Rafferty and Beasley were arrested.
Jurors Dana Nash and Michele Lewis, both of Akron, said it was Rafferty’s contradictory “changing” words from the witness stand and during recorded interviews with law enforcement that sealed their verdicts.
“We was kind of skeptical,” Nash said. “Because he was kind of contradicting his self during his testimony and some of his interviews. Luckily, we took good notes and the evidence was there.”
Lewis agreed. She said Rafferty had plenty of occasions from the first killing in August 2011 to the last one three months later to contact police. Instead, the teen dug graves for Beasley, drove him to rural Noble County and then shared in stealing the victims’ property after they were dead.
“(Rafferty) had every opportunity to get away from him,” Lewis said. “It was really hard to decide, though. There was a lot of deep thought because of him being 16.”
Nash agreed that Rafferty’s youth made their decision difficult. He was 16 and a junior at Stow-Munroe Falls High School when the killings took place.
“We were trying to be fair and we were fair,” Nash said. “We came up with the right decision. It was very difficult for us because, like I said, he’s a child and it was very hurtful.”
The panel deliberated 20 hours over four days after getting the case Thursday. Nash, the jury forewoman, said the panel was being thoughtful and thorough to review each of the 25 counts.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are still under a gag order put in place by Callahan and did not talk to reporters.
Rafferty was convicted of 24 out of 25 counts. Those charges include nine aggravated murder counts for the three victims, attempted murder, multiple counts of robbery and kidnapping, gun specifications and several theft-related charges. Jurors acquitted Rafferty on one count of identity theft and several gun specifications.
The four victims all responded to a Craigslist help-wanted ad in 2011. The listing, billed in the ad as a “job of a lifetime,” promised the use of an expansive property in Noble County and a trailer, plus a $300 weekly salary to oversee the land.
The Craigslist ad required applicants to submit their background information, including their marital status. All of the victims were down-on-their-luck bachelors.
Rafferty testified that Beasley at first killed for a new identity. Later, his motive changed to robbing the men who took the job and intended to move their property to Noble County.
The scheme did not come to the attention of law enforcement until Scott Davis, 48, of South Carolina, was shot Nov. 6 while touring the property. His escape led authorities to the body of David Pauley, 51, of Virginia, who was buried on the same property.
Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron, was the first victim. He was killed Aug. 9, 2011. His body was found in Noble County in November, the same day the body of Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, was found in a wooded area near Rolling Acres Mall in southwest Akron.
Authorities believe Kern was killed Nov. 13 and Pauley on Oct. 23.
Rafferty cooperated with investigators in late November under a proposed plea deal with Noble County prosecutors that would have allowed him to seek parole after serving 26 years in prison in exchange for his testimony against Beasley. The deal fell apart, and he was not offered a new deal when his case was transferred to Summit County.
©2012 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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