Jury gets "Craigslist slayings" case against Brogan Rafferty, Ohio teen

Brogan Rafferty Ed Suba Jr., AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal

(CBS/AP) AKRON, Ohio -  The case of Brogan Rafferty, an Ohio teenager accused of participating in the slayings of three men lured by phony Craigslist job offers, went to a jury Thursday.

In closing arguments, prosecutors portrayed the now 17-year-old as a full accomplice in the crimes while his defense attorney argued he was a scared child stuck in a horrible situation.

Rafferty faces life in prison without a chance of parole if convicted of aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of the men last year. Two were killed in rural eastern Ohio and one was killed near Akron.

Rafferty has said his onetime mentor, Richard Beasley, had issued a veiled warning to keep quiet.

Beasley, who has pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately, could face the death penalty if convicted. As a juvenile, Rafferty can't be sentenced to death.

In closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors portrayed Rafferty as someone who knew exactly what he was doing and ignored opportunities to go to police.

"Although Richard Beasley is a murderer and liar, he was brutally honest with one person," assistant Summit County prosecutor John Baumoel told jurors. "One person knew everything that he was doing. Just one. And that was Brogan Rafferty. Brogan Raffery knew each and every one of his dark secrets."

Baumoel pointed jurors to Internet searches Rafferty did after the first slaying for the term "first kill." And he downplayed arguments the defense had made that Rafferty was the product of a tough childhood, his mother a drug addict on the streets, his father rarely around as he worked long hours to support the family.

"Having a difficult childhood is neither a moral excuse or a legal excuse for being involved in the deaths of multiple people," Baumoel said.

Rafferty's attorney said the suspect was a 16-year-old child at the time of the killings who was afraid Beasley would harm his mother and sister and didn't know how to escape.

"Did we see Brogan Rafferty, psychopath, or a 16-year-old child who found himself in a horrible situation and couldn't find his way out," attorney John Alexander said.

Alexander also said it was unrealistic to portray Beasley as a manipulator who deceived everyone, except for Rafferty.

Rafferty "was a pawn. He did exactly what Beasley told him to do. His purpose in all of this was survival," Alexander said.

Complete coverage of the Ohio Craigslist murder case on Crimesider