(AKRON, Ohio) — The trial for an Ohio teen accused of being the co-conspirator in an allegedly phony Craigslist job scheme that resulted in the deaths of three men is underway with jury selection beginning Tuesday.
Brogan Rafferty, 17, allegedly helped his mentor Richard Beasley, 53, lure victims to Ohio with the promise of a job on a cattle farm. The men were told to bring all their belongings because they would be living on the farm.
Four men responded to the ad and traveled to Ohio. Three of the men were killed and one was able to escape with wounds. Police have said they believe the motive for the killings was robbery.
David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va., was found dead in Noble County, Ohio. Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, Ohio, was found shot in the head in a shallow grave. Ralph Geiger, 55, of Akron, Ohio, was also found with a gunshot wound to the head.
The fourth victim, Scott Davis of South Carolina, was able to escape after being shot in the arm and hiding in the woods, officials say.
Rafferty and Beasley will be tried separately. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder and attempted murder.
Rafferty is being tried as an adult, but cannot face the death penalty because he was a juvenile at the time of the alleged killings. He could face life in prison, if convicted. A judge has prohibited attorneys on both sides from commenting on the case outside of court.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys were recently at odds over recorded interviews in which Rafferty admitted to digging two of the victims’ graves.
When Rafferty was asked about Davis, the man who managed to escape, he said, “I thought it was good for him because he kept talking about having a family on the way down there. I thought it was bad for Rich and probably bad for me, but good for him.”
The interviews were recorded by a Noble County detective. Rafferty’s attorney John Alexander argued to a judge that the statements should be withheld from trial because they were recorded in the principal’s office of Stow High School without an attorney present.
Alexander said Rafferty said the word “attorney” multiple times during the interview, but was intimidated into talking, according to ABC News’ Cleveland-Akron affiliate WEWS-TV.
Prosecutors argue that Rafferty was read his Miranda rights and was arrogant during the interviews, WEWS reported.
Summit County Judge Lynne Callahan ruled that the audio recordings could be used in the trial.
Rafferty’s father, Michael Rafferty, told ABC News in November 2011 that his son unwittingly dug some of the shallow graves, thinking they were drainage ditches.
“I think he probably didn’t realize what he was involved in until it was too late and that he was in fear for his life and the lives of the people he loved,” Michael Rafferty told “Good Morning America.”
Rafferty said his son told him that he did not shoot anyone and was under the spell of Beasley, who had been his mentor.
“To think that my son would be capable of masterminding some kind of crazy scheme like this, that’s beyond belief,” Michael Rafferty said.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Beasley whose trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 7.
Beasley has an extensive criminal history and two Akron, Ohio, churches linked to Beasley have denied any direct connection to him.
Court documents from Texas show arrests and convictions for charges including burglary and the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Beasley spent about four years in prison in Texas.
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