The former Stark County resident tells a jury how he was shot on a Noble County farm and lived to tell about it.
Scott Davis stepped away from the witness stand and eyed Richard Beasley.
Davis needed a better view of Beasley, the man accused of killing three men and trying to murder him in what are known as the Craigstlist killings.
Seated in a wheelchair on the second day of his trial Tuesday in Summit County Common Pleas Court, Beasley was turned to the side and did not look at his accuser. Davis, standing feet away from the defendant, said he had no doubt. His voice was strong, steady.
“That’s him right there,” the Stark County native said.
Beasley, who faces nine aggravated murder counts and other charges in a 27-count indictment, could face the death penalty if convicted.
Prosecutors say in 2011 he shot and killed Timothy J. Kern, 47, of Jackson Township, David M. Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va. and Ralph H. Geiger, 56, of Akron. Beasley is also accused of robbing some of the men.
PROMISE OF A NEW LIFE
Davis was another of Beasley’s intended targets but survived, prosecutors contend.
Davis, whose testimony is key to the state’s case, detailed the day he had traveled from South Carolina to Ohio. He left his landscaping business behind.
Davis would be closer to his mother, who lives in the Canton area. And Davis, who grew up in Massillon, was ready to start a job — watching over a 680-acre farm in Noble County in the Caldwell area.
He was promised $300 a week, a place to live, land on which to hunt and fish, prosecutors contend.
The two came face-to-face on Nov. 6, 2011. After meeting with Beasley for breakfast, Davis left his truck and trailer in a parking lot. A teenage boy was with Beasley, who went by the name of Jack, one of a handful of aliases prosecutors say Beasley used. He also changed his appearance, dying his beard and mustache dark, according to prosecuting attorneys.
The boy drove the car, Davis told the jury. Beasley was a front seat passenger. Davis was in the back. Taking remote roads, the trio stopped before Davis and Beasley walked into the thick wilderness. The reason was to go look at some farm equipment, Davis said Beasley told him. But they ended up turning around, and Davis led the way back to the road.
What came next made Davis fear for his life.
“I heard a curse word and I heard a click,” Davis told the jury.
He said he spun around and saw a gun wielded by Beasley. Davis said he raised an arm over his face and a gunshot tore through the elbow area of his right arm. He ran through the woods. Stumbling, falling. Three more gunshots echoed in rapid succession.
Page 2 of 2 - “I just kept running until I couldn’t run anymore,” Davis said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it.”
Davis wasn't supposed to survive, prosecutors say. A grave already had been dug for him. But after seven hours of hiding and extreme pain, Davis said he made it out the isolated woods and knocked on the door of a home. He told his story to authorities and was taken to a hospital. Davis led law enforcement to Beasley and Beasley’s eventual arrest.
Defense attorney Lawrence Whitney grilled Davis on numerous details, including the pistol that Davis said he kept in the back of the trailer but never told authorities about.
Whitney also asked the witness about his passion for riding the Harley Davidson motorcycle he brought with him from South Carolina. And whether he was familiar with any motorcycle clubs.
Davis also was quizzed about why he did not initially want to talk to the FBI about the shooting. After recovering from surgery, Davis said, he was too heavily medicated and experiencing too much pain to be interviewed. Davis ended up talking with the FBI at least twice.
Davis also was pounded with questions about tattoos. Earlier, he told prosecutors that he vividly remembered a tattoo on Beasley’s left arm. Under the direction of Emily Pelphrey, an attorney with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, Beasley pushed back the sleeves of his sport coat and dress shirt to reveal the body art.
Whitney pointed out that the witness had not mentioned the tattoo to investigators previously. Davis said he told Pelphrey about Beasley’s tattoo recently.
Later Tuesday, the defense attorneys continued to raise the motorcycle issue. In particular, Beasley’s association with Jerry Hood, a Noble County man.
It turns out that the U.S. Marshal’s office was conducting surveillance on Hood’s home in Noble County in October 2011. Defense attorney James Burdon stressed that point in an effort to cast doubt on Beasley’s involvement in the killings as well as Davis’ account.
Jeff Jones, an employee of the Ohio Adult Parole Authority who works with the U.S. Marshal’s office on fugitive cases, testified that the surveillance was on Beasley, not Hood. The man’s property was being watched prior to Davis getting shot because of interest in Beasley, Jones explained.
The trial was to continue today before Judge Lynne S. Callahan.
Beasley’s teenage codefendant, Brogan Rafferty, was convicted of aggravated murder and other charges and is serving a life sentence.