"Craigslist Murder" Case: Ohio jury recommends death penalty for Richard Beasley

Richard Beasley awaits the jury's sentencing recommendation in the courtroom of Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Lynne Callahan, Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Akron, Ohio. Beasley, a self-styled street preacher, was convicted of killing three down-and-out men lured by bogus Craigslist job offers.
Pool, Michael Chritton,AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal
Richard Beasley slumps over after being found guilty of aggravated murder on March 12, 2013 in Akron, Ohio
AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal, Phil Masturzo, Pool

(CBS/AP) AKRON, Ohio - A jury recommended the death penalty Wednesday for an Ohio man convicted of killing three jobseekers lured by bogus Craigslist job offers.

Richard Beasley, 53, was convicted of teaming up with a teenager in 2011 to lure men with offers of farmhand jobs in southeast Ohio and to rob them. Three men were killed, and a fourth who was wounded testified at Beasley's trial.

The same jury that convicted Beasley made its recommendation after hearing from his mother and other witnesses who testified on his behalf in the penalty phase of his trial. The judge set his sentencing for Tuesday.

Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel said Beasley deserves to be executed.

"The law in Ohio for the death penalty, it's reserved for the worst of the worst, and it's the state's position that Richard Beasley is the worst of the worst," Baumoel said.

Jack Kern, father of 47-year-old victim Timothy Kern, cried and smiled over the jury's recommendation.

"They made the right decision," he said outside court. "They knew what they had in their heart and what they had to do. They did it for us."

Baumoel, freed from a gag order that lasted during the trial and sentencing phase, said Beasley's teenage co-defendant, Brogan Rafferty, wasn't called to testify by the state because he wanted a sentence reduction, which prosecutors rejected.

"We weren't willing to do that," the prosecutor said.

Rafferty, who was 16 at the time of the crimes, was too young to face the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole on his conviction last year.

In closing arguments, both sides highlighted Rafferty's life sentence in contrast to a possible death sentence for Beasley. The defense said that issue should factor into the jury's deliberations, but the prosecution said it wasn't an issue because Rafferty's age, by law, ruled out death as an option.

The jury received Beasley's case after hearing two hours of testimony from witnesses, including Beasley's tearful mother, who were called to portray him sympathetically and press for leniency.

Carol Beasley testified that her son had a troubled childhood and suffered physical abuse by his stepfather. She also said she learned within the past year that her son was sexually abused by neighborhood youngsters.

"I always felt there was much more than he told me," she said.

The defense also called a psychologist, John Fabian, who testified that Beasley suffers from depression, alcohol abuse, low self-esteem and a feeling of isolation, all possible results of a troubled, abusive childhood.

One of Beasley's victims was killed near Akron, and the others were shot at a southeast Ohio farm during bogus job interviews.

The slain men were 56-year-old Ralph Geiger, 51-year-old David Pauley and Kern. All were down-and-out men looking for a fresh start in life, prosecutors said during trial.

The survivor, 49-year-old Scott Davis, testified that he heard the click of a gun as he walked in front of Beasley at the reputed job site. Davis, who was shot in an arm, knocked the weapon aside, fled into the woods and tipped police.

Beasley, who returned to Ohio from Texas in 2004 after serving several years in prison on a burglary conviction, testified that he met with Davis and Davis had pulled a gun in retaliation for Beasley serving as a police informant in a motorcycle gang investigation.

Complete coverage of the Craigslist Murder Case on Crimesider