Craigslist Murder Case: Brogan Rafferty, Ohio teen, found guilty

Brogan Rafferty, 16, of Stow, Ohio listens during a hearing in the courtroom of Judge John W. Nau at the Noble County Courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, in Caldwell, Ohio. Rafferty faces juvenile charges of aggravated murder, complicity to aggravated murder, attempted murder and complicity to attempted murder in the death of one man and the shooting of another. Authorities say the teenager was involved in a scheme in which applicants answering a Craigslist ad for a phony job at a nonexistent cattle ranch in Noble County, 90 miles south of Akron in rural southeastern Ohio, were robbed, then killed.
Ed Suba Jr.,AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal
Brogan Rafferty during a hearing on Nov. 29, 2011, in Caldwell, Ohio
Ed Suba Jr.,AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal

(CBS/AP) AKRON, Ohio - Ohio teen Brogan Rafferty was found guilty Tuesday and faces life in prison with no chance of parole for his role in the deaths of three men in a deadly Craigslist robbery scheme.

The jury reached its verdict on the fourth day of deliberations in an Akron court. Prosecutors said the 17-year-old was a quick student of violence and a willing participant in the three killings, while the defense argued he was acting out of fear because of pressure from his alleged accomplice, 53-year-old Richard Beasley.

Authorities said Rafferty lured four victims at separate times with bogus Craigslist job offers to a nonexistent cattle farm in rural southeast Ohio. The motive was robbery, authorities said. Beasley allegedly shot and killed three of the men, while the fourth victim was shot in the arm and survived.

Jury forewoman Dana Nash and other jurors said it was a difficult decision because of the Rafferty's age, calling him "a child" on a couple of occasions.

Jurors said they worked on the 25 charges against Rafferty one by one, debated each charge and often reviewed their own notes and evidence presented at trial, including audio interviews Rafferty gave investigators.

Nash said they were skeptical of some of Rafferty's testimony, saying they felt as if he contradicted himself at points, as well as in his interviews with investigators.

"We were trying to be fair, and we were fair," Nash said. "We listened to everything, we observed everything, and we feel we made the right decision."

Rafferty testified that he didn't want to be a part of the violence and said he went along with the plan only because he feared for his life. He was tried as an adult and faces a maximum potential sentence of life in prison. His sentencing is set for Nov. 5.

Beasley has pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty if convicted at his separate trial.

Scott Davis, the only surviving member of the Craigslist killings, testified as the prosecution's star witness and identified Rafferty as Beasley's accomplice.

During Rafferty's trial, defense attorney John Alexander painted Beasley as the mastermind and said the first killing came without warning for Rafferty, who "had no idea any of this was going on."

After the first killing, Alexander said Beasley warned Rafferty to keep quiet and cooperate by reminding him that he knew where his mother and sister lived.

Prosecutor Emily Pelphrey told jurors that Rafferty chose to participate in the killings, saying he was a "student of violent crime."

"He made the choices he wanted to make," she said.

The three men killed were 56-year-old Ralph Geiger, 51-year-old David Pauley and 47-year-old Timothy Kern. Authorities say they were targeted because they were older, single, out-of-work men with backgrounds that made it unlikely their disappearances would be noticed right away. Prosecutors showed jurors photos of their graves and said they were just trying to improve their lives and find work.

Complete coverage of Brogan Rafferty on Crimesider