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Courts and Crime


Accused Akron Craigslist killer testifies in his defense
Richard Beasley says wounded man, Scott Davis, tried to kill him
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
Richard Beasley stands to take the oath before testifying.
Courtesy of Court pool video
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In The Region:
The man accused of being the mastermind behind the so-called “Craigslist killings” took the stand today in his own defense. Fifty-three-year-old Richard Beasley of Akron is facing the death penalty if he’s convicted in the triple-murder case. But WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports that Beasley testified that he was more victim than perpetrator.
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Richard Beasley has been confined to a wheel chair since his trial began. But when it came time to testify, he simply stood up in the Akron courtroom and walked over to the stand.

Beasley is accused of placing job ads on Craigslist to find men to rob and kill. Police have linked the ads to the deaths of three men: 51-year-old David Pauley of Virginia, 47-year-old Timothy Kern of Massillon and 56-year-old Ralph Geiger of Akron. A fourth man, 49-year-old Scott Davis of Massillon, testified earlier that Beasley had shot him on a farm in southern Ohio before Davis escaped.

Beasley told a similar story, only in his version Davis trying to kill him.  Beasley testified he had been an informant for Akron police and that’s why Davis wanted to kill him.  

“We were wrestling over the gun. It misfired and then it fired and then it misfired.”

Beasley said Davis apparently wounded himself in the elbow and finally dropped the gun and ran off.

Defense attorney James Burdon asked why he didn’t call police.

“Because I didn’t want to go to jail,” Beasley responded. “I had a warrant out for my arrest, and I wasn’t injured.”

But Scott Davis did go to the police as soon as he found a farm house. And 10 days later Beasley and his 16-year-old protégé, Brogan Rafferty of Stow, were arrested. Rafferty was tried as an adult and found guilty of murder in October. 

Beasley says he took Davis down to the Noble County farm because it belonged to his friend, Jerry Hood, and he was looking to hire a caretaker. Assistant Summit County Prosecutor John Baumoel argued that Beasley took his victims there to rob and kill them..

“Isn’t it true, Mr. Beasley, that you lured Ralph Geiger down there to Noble County , stuck a gun at the back of his head, just as you’d done with Scott Davis…”

 “Absolutely not.”

“…pulled the trigger…”

“Wrong.”

“…and shot him in the back of the head?”

“You’re a liar, and you didn’t see it. Nobody testified to that in this court.  It did not happen.”

Police discovered Beasley had clothes and an ID from the third murder victim, Ralph Geiger. The defendant said Geiger was a friend who had allowed him to assume his identity because Beasley was hiding from an arrest warrant in Texas. The prosecution asked whether Beasley had something to gain with Geiger dead.

“Actually, no. I already had the ID. I didn’t benefit from his death. What difference did it make if he’s dead?  I already had the ID.” 

The bodies of Geiger and Pauley were found buried on the farm. The body of Timothy Kern was found buried in Akron. The defense is expected to call more witnesses tomorrow.

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