An Ohio teenager accused of robbing and killing three men was found guilty Tuesday after four days of jury deliberation. Brogan Rafferty, 17, was convicted of 24 of the 25 charges against him; he was found not guilty of an identity theft charge. He now faces a possible penalty of life without parole.
Rafferty and Richard Beasley, 53, were arrested on November 16, 2011, in connection with three murders and one attempted murder. Authorities in Ohio said the duo lured their victims using job postings on Craigslist seeking farm workers. Respondents were told to bring their belongings as they would be living on a fictitious 688-acre cattle farm. The bodies of Timothy Kern, 47, Ralph Geiger, 56 and David Pauley, 51, were found in shallow graves in the woods near Akron, dead from gunshot wounds. A fourth victim, Scott Davis, 48, escaped after being shot in the elbow. According to what Rafferty told police, Beasley planned to make $30,000 to $40,000 by selling Davis’s property. Rafferty also told police he “felt horrible” about the murder of Kern, whose only possession was a 1989 Buick that Beasley planned to sell to a scrap yard.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Rafferty was a willing participant in the crimes, while the defense said he acted out of fear. In a taped police interview played for jurors, Rafferty said he was “ordered” to dig a grave for one of the victims, and that Beasley “watched him like a hawk.” Rafferty also said Beasley reminded him that he knew where his mother and sister lived.
Beasley has an extensive criminal record and has served a total of 15 years in jail, on charges including drug trafficking. He worked as an unpaid chaplain, and, according to his 70-year-old mother, “has a very caring heart.” He acted as a sort of mentor to Rafferty who’d been having difficulties since his parents’ divorce. The two went fishing and volunteered together. Beasley has pleaded not guilty and faces the death penalty if convicted.