Richard Beasley was sentenced Thursday morning to death by a judge in Akron for luring men to their deaths with bogus Craigslist job offers.
Barbara Gray had no plans to address Richard Beasley — the man who killed her brother and two other men in 2011 — when a Summit County judge sentenced him to death Thursday.
Beasley wouldn’t listen anyway, she had thought.
But Gray erupted after Beasley again denied killing the three men and vowed to have his conviction overturned.
“Your words mean nothing, Beasley,” she yelled as bailiffs wheeled the 53-year-old self-proclaimed street preacher from Judge Lynne Callahan’s court.
“I didn’t want him to have the last say,” Gray, the sister of victim Timothy Kern, said later in the courthouse halls as family members embraced each other.
Callahan imposed the death penalty for each of Beasley’s three murder victims. Last month, the same jury that convicted Beasley on a 26-count indictment, including nine counts of aggravated murder, recommended his execution. Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel said Thursday that the death penalty is reserved for the worst offenders.
“Richard Beasley is the worst of the worst,” Baumoel told the court.
In 2011, Beasley kidnapped and killed three men who were down on their luck by luring them with the false promise of a $300-a-week job as the caretaker of a Noble County farm. He solicited job applicants by posting a bogus ad on Craigslist.
Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron, was killed on Aug. 9, 2011. David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va., was killed Oct. 23, 2011. Both men were found in shallow graves in Noble County.
The body of the 47-year-old Kern, of Jackson Township, was discovered in another shallow grave behind Rolling Acres Mall in Akron on Nov. 13, 2011. Beasley and co-defendant Brogan Rafferty were arrested three days later.
Rafferty, who was 16 at the time of the murders and not eligible for the death penalty, was sentenced last year to life in prison without possibility of parole.
A fourth victim, who survived Beasley’s attempt to kill him, was the prosecution’s key witness in both trials. Scott W. Davis, formerly of Massillon, wiped tears from his eyes as he recalled the encounter in Noble County on Nov. 6, 2011. Davis, 49, had been living in South Carolina when he learned about the job. He had hoped to return to Ohio to be closer to his mother.
Calling Beasley a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Davis said Beasley knew his fate the morning Beasley sat across from him for breakfast.
“Everything that came out of your mouth was a lie,” Davis told him.
He recalled being hunted by Beasley like a rabid dog and said God kept him alive after hiding seven hours in the woods while nursing a gunshot wound. Davis also chided Beasley for claiming to be a street preacher.
Page 2 of 2 - “You say you know God. Not yet,” Davis said. “Not even the best lawyers money can buy can get Satan off for murder.”
KILLER VOWS TO APPEAL
Michael Schafer said Geiger, his lifelong friend, had faith in people, and, maybe to a fault, believed them to be good and honest. Beasley was a predator, Schafer said, who took advantage of Geiger’s trust.
“He has no remorse for these heinous crimes,” Schafer said.
Pauley’s twin sister, Debra Bruce, said her family has suffered many sleepless nights over the last 18 months.
“You took my best friend, my confidant and my twin,” she said.
Beasley declined Callahan’s invitation to address her before sentencing, waiting instead until after the victim impact statements. When he got his chance to address the court, Beasley said he felt sorry for the “horrible” experience the families had been put through.
“I know you are full of pain,” he said.
Beasley sat in a wheelchair in a red and white striped jumpsuit with a cane in one hand, and gazed at the floor, just as he’d done for much of his trial. He appeared remorseful for a second as he spoke.
Then, raising his voice slightly and lifting his chin, he looked up toward Callahan to again proclaim his innocence.
“I have killed nobody,” a defiant Beasley insisted. “That’s a fact.”
He said he would appeal his conviction and that it would be reversed. He encouraged victims’ family members to visit him in prison or write if they wanted answers. Callahan interrupted Beasley, telling him she would not allow the case to be retried in her court.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, seated with the Kern family, folded his arms and shook his head back and forth in disgust as Beasley spoke. DeWine and Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh told reporters afterward that they were pleased with the sentencing. Walsh called Beasley a “cold-blooded master manipulator.” DeWine said Beasley’s remarks were “sickening.”
“The defendant’s statement is pretty much what we expected,” DeWine said “What can I say? Arrogance continues.”
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