To see more about the crimes Richard Beasley and Brogan Rafferty committed, click here to buy the Beacon Journal eBook The Craigslist Killings.
Richard Beasley didn’t make a plea to jurors for his life.
Instead, the convicted killer sat in his wheelchair, keeping his head bowed and his hand covering his eyes while his mother and his attorney tried Wednesday to save it.
They were not successful.
Jurors recommended to Judge Lynne S. Callahan shortly after 6 p.m. that Beasley be put to death for killing three men in the so-called Craigslist murders. He has also been convicted for attempting to kill a fourth man.
Callahan will impose her sentence at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday.
After the announcement, Jack Kern, father of victim Tim Kern, said closure will begin after the sentencing.
He said the families of the victims helped each other throughout the ordeal.
“We all stuck together. It’s been a family for us. We’ve really been together for the whole time. It means a lot,” said a tearful Kern as he held his wife, Ellen, and was surrounded by representatives of the other families.
Kern said there were times during the trial that listening to the testimony was difficult.
“I wanted to walk out of the courtroom when [Beasley] was on the stand. It was terrible. Blatant lies,” he said.
But Wednesday’s swift verdict suggested jurors “knew what was going on,” Kern said. “They made the right decision.”
In the sentencing hearing during the day, defense attorney Lawrence Whitney implored jurors to spare Beasley’s life and consider less penalties such as life in prison with no parole or parole eligibility in 25 or 30 years.
The same jury convicted Beasley this month in the killings of Ralph Geiger, David Pauley and Tim Kern. Beasley, 53, was also convicted of attempted murder in the shooting of Scott Davis.
The men were all lured by a bogus job offer to oversee a vast, isolated property in Noble County. The ad was written by Beasley and appeared on Craigslist in 2011. Prosecutors said Beasley targeted down-on-their-luck bachelors with few family ties.
But Whitney reminded jurors that the “heinousness” of the crimes of which Beasley was convicted is not to be considered by jurors when they recommend a sentence.
“The verdict you sign determines whether Mr. Beasley lives or dies,” Whitney said.
Defense attorneys called just three witnesses during the day’s sentencing hearing. Beasley was not one of them.
In death penalty cases, defendants can take the stand with impunity, and many do so to plead for mercy from jurors. In Beasley’s case, such a plea would have been contradictory.
At trial, he testified to the same jurors that he didn’t kill anyone, that he shot Davis in self-defense and that others, perhaps members of a motorcycle gang, were responsible for the deaths of Geiger, Pauley and Kern.
Instead, his 72-year-old mother, Carol Beasley, while making no direct plea of mercy, told jurors that she “loves Richard with all [her] heart.”
The thrust of her testimony centered on her son’s early childhood, which she said included an absent biological father and later, an abusive, alcoholic stepfather.
“He was abusive from the point that he neglected us. He was just never around,” Carol Beasley said of her first marriage, which lasted less than two years.
Richard Beasley was about 18 months old when his father left the family for good. Carol Beasley remarried about two years later and raised her son in Akron. She told jurors that her new husband, Jim, drank and gambled incessantly and was abusive toward her, Richard, and their two daughters.
Her own physical abuse included slapping and pushing, she said. Furniture, dishes and windows were broken during many of her husband’s tantrums, she added.
The trauma initiated from her husband, she said, was especially prevalent “anytime he drank, which was about seven days a week.”
She said her son bore much physical and emotional abuse and she recalled a time when her husband used an extension cord to whip a young Richard Beasley for riding his tricycle in their home.
“It just never got any better,” she said. “Everybody was afraid when he’d come home.”
Carol Beasley and her husband are still married.
“In retrospect, I can see I made a mistake,” Carol Beasley told jurors.
She said her poor marriage affected her children, especially Richard. In school, she said, her son was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She also told jurors that she recently learned her son was molested as a child by two boys in the neighborhood.
Dr. John Matthew Fabian, a forensic psychologist and mitigation expert, testified for the defense about Beasley’s life. Fabian met with Beasley in the Summit County Jail on 10 occasions from April 2012 through March 9 of this year.
Fabian told jurors that Beasley’s childhood and his family’s “cycle of violence” contributed to his adult diagnosis of depression and dependency on alcohol and opiate drugs.
“It’s not a good way to start out in life,” Fabian told the jury.
Beasley was diagnosed with depression while in prison in 1980 and has been on medication ever since, Fabian said. His substance abuse began while Beasley served in the U.S. Navy and continued through his adulthood as a means of “escaping” his problems, Fabian said.
He also found Beasley to have above-average intelligence with an IQ of 115. However, he said, tests showed Beasley has personality disorders that include narcissistic tendencies and anti-social behavior that includes a lack of empathy for others.
A third defense witness was a friend of Beasley, who talked of meeting the defendant about 10 years ago at church. The friend continues to visit Beasley in jail.
Paul Scarsella, an assistant Ohio attorney general, countered for the state, reminding jurors of Beasley’s “moral culpability” in the murders, Beasley’s personal choices, and the fact that many people from abusive homes don’t grow up to kill.
“It doesn’t diminish the appropriateness of the death penalty in this case because he grew up in an abusive household,” he said.”
He reminded jurors of another finding in Fabian’s report: that Beasley “blames everyone else” for his problems and crimes. He urged jurors to recommend death.
Geiger, 56, of Akron, was killed Aug. 9, 2011. His body was found in Noble County in November, the same day the body of Kern, 47, of Massillon, was found in a wooded area near the former Rolling Acres mall in Akron.
Authorities believe Kern was killed Nov. 13, and Pauley, 51, of Virginia, on Oct. 23.
The scheme did not come to the attention of law enforcement until Davis, 48, a Stark County native living in South Carolina, was shot Nov. 6 while touring the property.
Beasley’s co-defendant, Brogan Rafferty, a Stow-Munroe Falls High School student, who was 16 at the time of the crimes, was convicted of three counts of aggravated murder last year. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.