To see more about the crimes Richard Beasley and Brogan Rafferty committed, click here to buy the Beacon Journal eBook The Craigslist Killings.
Richard James Beasley testified in his own defense Wednesday, telling a Summit County jury he was a “snitch” and informant for Akron police, and that shooting victim Scott Davis was sent to Noble County farm property in November 2011 “to blow my brains out.”
Davis, who testified last week at Beasley’s capital murder trial, told the jury — as he did last year at the trial of Beasley co-defendant Brogan Rafferty — that he managed to escape from Beasley on the desolate farm property after being shot in the right elbow.
During about 65 minutes of direct testimony led by defense counsel James L. Burdon, however, Beasley directly pointed the finger at Davis as the man who had the gun — an old, six-shot revolver that misfired several times on the morning of Nov. 6, 2011.
When an FBI SWAT team arrested Beasley 10 days later in Akron, he testified that he never knew that the other three shooting victims, Ralph Geiger, David Pauley and Timothy Kern, had been killed in connection with the so-called Craigslist slayings.
Beasley said he thought he was being arrested because he had a fugitive warrant at that time for parole violations related to past crimes.
Prosecutors have said Beasley preyed on the Craigslist victims — men down on their luck and looking for a dream job — after they responded to his ad for the bogus Noble County farm job, about 100 miles southeast of Akron.
Beasley denied all of those allegations in his testimony.
He said Davis had nefarious connections, through violent motorcycle gangs, to a man named Jerry “Country” Hood and his son, Jerry “County” Hood, who had lived for decades on the vast farm property in the Noble County village of Caldwell.
A woman who was married to “Country” Hood testified in the first week of Beasley’s trial and told the jury that her husband was once the international president of the Brothers Motorcycle Club. She also said she knew Beasley well, and that he was friends with her husband and her son.
Death sentence possible
Beasley, 53, is in the second week of his trial on three aggravated murder counts, the attempted murder of Davis and a long list of other crimes in connection with his alleged role in the Craigslist case. If he is convicted of any of the aggravated murder counts, he could be sentenced to death.
When called to the stand, Beasley got up from his wheelchair, stood before the bench, raised his right hand and took an oath to tell the truth when instructed by Common Pleas Judge Lynne Callahan. He then walked a few steps to the witness stand and took his seat.
In a calm, even voice he answered questions from Burdon.
Beasley testified that Davis responded to the Craigslist ads for the nonexistent farm job and came to Ohio. He said Jerry “County” Hood performed much of the work placing those ads.
He told the jury that on the morning of Nov. 6, Rafferty drove him and Davis on a remote, countryside road to the farm property. When they got out, Davis pointed the revolver at his face, but the gun misfired.
Beasley said he then took off running, Davis caught him, they fought and they wrestled over the gun in the woods. Davis was shot during their struggle.
“Jerry Hood had sent someone to blow my brains out,” Beasley told the jury during the final minutes of his direct testimony. He did not specify whether he meant the father or son.
When Burdon asked him if he knew that three men had been killed after responding to the online ad, Beasley replied: “I had no reason to believe that. I had no idea that somebody, anybody, had been killed down at that farm. I had no way to know anybody had been killed.
“When they came after me,” he continued, “I thought: ‘This is personal, this is me, I was an informant.’ I always knew in the back of my mind that, being an informant, this could happen.
“But you never think it’s going to happen. It’s like you always know you could get in a car wreck, but you never think it’s going to happen.”
Rafferty, now 17, was convicted of aggravated murder in a jury trial late last year. Callahan sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole.
Beasley said he has known Rafferty, who was 16 at the time of the crimes, since the teen’s childhood. He also told the jury that Rafferty and Jerry “County” Hood also knew each other and said they had a common bond: fathers who served as presidents of violent Northeast Ohio motorcycle gangs.
As the defense case continued after a break, Akron police Detective Keith Meadows, who works on gang investigations, told the jury Beasley had, in fact, provided information on motorcycle club activities.
Their talks began in August 2010 and continued four months, Meadows said.
Defense co-counsel Larry Whitney then cited Meadows’ written reports on his dealings with Beasley.
In one report, it was revealed that Beasley passed on information about some club members being drunk, then made reference to “a double homicide” (well before and unrelated to the Craigslist incidents) on the Hood property in Caldwell.
Meadows also said Beasley gave information on “drug problems” of various club members.
What would club leaders do if they found out about a snitch? Whitney asked.
“I believe [Beasley] mentioned that they would be in trouble,” Meadows answered.
Under prosecution questioning, Meadows was asked if such retaliation would be carried out quickly, or over time.
“No, it’s swift,” Meadows said flatly.
Early in Beasley’s testimony, he acknowledged wrongdoing with only one of the three men killed: Ralph Geiger of Akron.
Beasley said Geiger, who apparently had several driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, helped him take on a new identity.
When asked why he was interested in a new identity, Beasley said he knew he was wanted on the fugitive warrant and did not want authorities to catch him.
His trial resumes at 9 a.m. today.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or email@example.com.