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Ohio Teen Convicted of Killing Three Men

Brogan Rafferty

The trial of an Ohio teenager began this week. Brogan Rafferty, age 17, is accused in a murder plot that used a Craigslist ad to lure victims. Rafferty is accused of killing David Pauley, 51 of Norfolk, Virginia; Ralph Geiger, 56 of Akron, Ohio; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, Ohio.  The three men were found in shallow graves around Ohio last year. Two of the men had answered an ad on Craigslist touting a $300 per week job located just south of Akron, Ohio. Evidence at trial indicated nearly 100 people responded to the ad posting.

The prosecution’s case painted Rafferty as a knowing partner to the accused gunman in the case, 53-year old Richard Beasley. Its case likened Rafferty to the getaway driver in a bank robbery, calling the teenager a “mobster wannabe” who was obsessed with organized crime.  Evidence showed he would conduct Internet searches using terms like “first kill.”

Rafferty’s defense team showed him as a “pawn” placed in the situation as the result of his young age and unstable home life. Rafferty took the stand in his own defense, telling jurors that he was afraid Beasley would kill him or his family if he did not do what Beasley wanted. The defense placed the blame on Beasley, calling him a monster who preyed on vulnerable people and betrayed Rafferty by threatening to kill his mother and sister after he shot the first victim, Ralph Geiger.

Rafferty was 16 when he was arrested, but is being tried as an adult. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of killing all three men.

The jury deliberated for two hours on Thursday after closing arguments.  Deliberations resumed on Friday morning. The jury ultimately reached a decision, finding Rafferty guilty on all counts, except Count 42, which was ID fraud.

Beasley is scheduled to stand trial in January. He was already facing drug and prostitution charges in Ohio and a probation violation charge in Texas. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Craigslist, as well as other forms of social media, has been the forum to lure many victims. People advertising goods for sale have been attacked and killed as have those responding to ads. In 2009, a former medical student was accused of killing a masseuse he met through Craigslist. This past February, two men in Tennessee were accused of killing a man and a woman for “defriending” the daughter of one of the suspects on Facebook.