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The Suburbanite
  • Teen gets life in prison for Craigslist killings

  • Brogan Rafferty will have no chance at parole. He learned is fate Friday in Summit County Common Pleas Court.

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  • Judge Lynne S. Callahan made it clear that she didn’t accept Brogan Rafferty’s claims of being a frightened kid unsure of where to turn for help as he helped Richard Beasley kill three men.
    Beasley’s actions were evil. “You embraced the evil. You studied it. You continued it,” Callahan told Rafferty during his sentencing hearing Friday in Summit County Common Pleas Court.
    The judge then sentenced the 17-year-old to life in prison without parole for helping to kill Ralph H. Geiger, James M. Pauley and Timothy J. Kern. She added three 10-year sentences for the attempted murder, robbery and kidnapping of Scott Davis. Finally, there are three years added for each victim because a gun was used in the crimes.
    Callahan noted that Rafferty cooperated with police during the investigation, so she ordered that all of the sentences be served at the same time. Under Ohio sentencing laws, Rafferty must serve 12 years for the gun specifications, then he begins the life without parole and other sentences.
    Members of the four victims’ families smiled, applauded and hugged when the sentencing hearing ended.
    Rafferty’s lawyers objected to the severity of the sentence said they plan to appeal.
    Whether the teenager, who would be a Stow High School senior, will testify against his one-time mentor Beasley, 53, in January remains uncertain.
    On Monday, it appeared that a sentencing agreement was being worked out based on a promise for Rafferty’s testimony. But Friday any chance of a lesser sentence had vanished.
    CRAIGSLIST KILLINGS
    Rafferty was convicted Oct. 30 for his involvement in the killings of Geiger, Pauley and Kern, as well as the shooting of Davis. Jurors determined that Rafferty helped — he dug graves, served as a driver and never reported the crimes — as Beasley sought out victims to rob and kill.
    In each instance the victim thought he had secured a job tending a farm in Noble County. Geiger, 56, of Akron, was recruited for the job at an Akron homeless shelter. Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va., Kern, 47, from Jackson Township, and Davis, 49, a former Stark County resident who was living in South Carolina, all answered an ad Beasley placed on Craigslist.
    The investigation began in November 2011 when Davis managed to escape Beasley after being wounded in his right arm. When it was reported that Davis had been hired for a farm job, relatives and friends of other victims began contacting investigators.
    Pauley’s body was found in a shallow grave in rural Noble County a week after Davis was shot. Authorities arrested Rafferty and Beasley the next day. A week later Rafferty gave investigators a statement and led them to Geiger's body on the Noble County property and Kern’s body buried in west Akron.
    Page 2 of 3 - 'HEARTBREAKING'
    Before issuing her sentence, Callahan discussed factors she considered in her decision. She noted Rafferty’s age (16 when the crimes occurred), the fact that he had no prior criminal record, that he came from a broken home and was raised by his father because of his mother’s drug problems.
    “The fact that you were getting yourself ready for kindergarten is heartbreaking,” Callahan said. But being dealt a lousy hand is no excuse for murder, she added.
    She noted that Rafferty showed himself to be very intelligent. “You should have been so much more,” she said.
    Callahan recalled Rafferty telling investigators that he was disturbed because Kern was killed for only $5, and wondered if the boy might have felt different if Kern would have had more money or property to steal. She also noted that the murders occurred over a three-month period. She didn’t believe Rafferty’s claim that he didn’t know what to do about reporting the crimes.
    HINDSIGHT
    Rafferty addressed the court but showed little emotion. He admitted his involvement and called Beasley evil and deceitful.
    “With 20-20 hindsight vision there were many options that I didn’t see at the time, but I do now,” the teenager said.
    Rafferty also expressed concern for the victims’ and their families. He said he knows families have suffered because of his actions.
    “There’s nothing I can say to make things better,” he said, following with a hushed, “I'm sorry.”
    Rafferty’s comments didn't seem to satisfy family and friends of victims. Several spoke at the hearing.
    A statement from Davis was read by his sister, Lori Hildreth of Massillon. Davis called Rafferty cold-hearted and sick, and noted that the boy had sat with him eating breakfast knowing that the day before he had dug a grave because Beasley planned to kill him.
    “It was only by the grace of God that I survived,” Hildreth read from brother’s statement. “You took from me the chance to live a normal life.”
    A distraught Barbara Daily, sister of Tim Kern, chastised Rafferty for killing her brother to get a TV. “You continued to chose to do evil over good,” she told Rafferty.
    Summer Rowley, a Massillon resident, said Geiger was a father figure to her. She had hoped her daughter would have the chance grow up knowing the loving, generous, trustworthy man. Instead her daughter will only know the pictures that surround the box that holds Geiger's ashes, Rowley said.
    “He was shot in the head and thrown in the dirt for what? For someone else’s own benefit.”
    LESSER SENTENCE
    Rafferty’s sentencing hearing was first set for Monday. But after an hour of discussions, the hearing ended and there were indications the teenager would receive a more lenient sentence in exchange for testimony against Beasley this January.
    Page 3 of 3 - But leniency never seemed to be in the picture  on Friday.
    Jon Baumoel, assistant Summit County prosecutor, asked Callahan to consider 72 years to life. The proposed sentence called for 23 years for each death and three years for the Davis shooting, with each sentence served consecutively.
    Defense lawyer John Alexander took exception to Baumoel’s request and noted that a 30-years-to-life sentence had been discussed Monday. That would open the door for possible parole.
    Alexander sought leniency, telling Callahan that Rafferty had remorse for his actions, but that the teen felt trapped by Beasley and unable to stop the crime spree.  “What I saw was a confused kid who didn’t know what to do,” Alexander said.
    Callahan opted to give Rafferty the maximum sentence for a juvenile offender.
    Jill Flagg, one of Rafferty’s defense lawyers who will lead the appeal effort, formally objected to the sentence.
    After the hearing Alexander told reporters that he didn’t know why the 30-years-to-life sentence offered Monday had been pulled.
    Baumoel insisted that term was never formally offered. He called it a “framework” and said it was discussed, along with the possibility of having Rafferty testify against Beasley.
    On Thursday, Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine said there was no sentence offer in the works for Rafferty. DeWine’s office helped prosecute the case. Baumoel said there was no pressure from DeWine to pull an offer of a lesser sentence. “We never made an offer,” he told reporters.
    Last November when Rafferty was arrested, his original defense lawyers signed an offer of 26 years to life in prison in exchange for the teenager’s cooperation. At that point, Rafferty gave a statement and helped investigators.
    But Rafferty later backed away the original offer. Alexander said the boy changed his mind because his original defense lawyer had failed to discuss the offer with Rafferty’s father. Alexander said prosecutors never proposed another offer, forcing the case to trial.