Brogan Rafferty, 17, of Stow, took the stand Tuesday in Summit County Common Pleas Court, where he is facing multiple counts of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and theft.
“Go with it or die.”
Brogan Rafferty said that was the only choice he could make after seeing his mentor and father-figure shoot a man in the head in the Noble County woods.
Rafferty, 17, of Stow, took the stand Tuesday in Summit County Common Pleas Court, where he is facing multiple counts of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and theft.
The prosecution says Rafferty willingly helped Richard J. Beasley, 53, of Akron, in a scheme to lure the victims with a phony Craigslist ad offering farm work in Noble County, kill them and steal their identities and possessions. A fourth victim survived the shooting.
The defense has said Beasley, who is set for trial next year, manipulated the then 16-year-old Rafferty.
Rafferty was the only witness of the day. Dressed in a gray golf shirt, he stayed calm throughout his testimony, not raising his voice or shedding tears.
He said he had no idea Beasley planned to kill the first victim, Ralph Geiger, in August 2011, and couldn’t think of a reason why he wouldn’t be next.
“I was terrified,” he said.
After the first killing, Rafferty said, Beasley threatened him with knife, and reminded him that he knew how to get to Rafferty’s mother and sister.
Beasley kept in nearly daily contact, and every time the older man stopped by or asked Rafferty to dig another hole in the woods, the teen said he figured he was going to die; he just hoped his cooperation would keep Beasley from harming his family.
Rafferty said he didn’t want any of the men to die, and expressed relief that one survived, but added he was too afraid to warn them or tell anyone else, including the police, what was happening.
“I trusted no one,” Rafferty said. “I didn't think anyone would believe me.”
After the last killing, that of Stark County resident Timothy J. Kern, Beasley gave him the gun, Rafferty said.
Defense attorney John Alexander asked Rafferty why he didn’t kill Beasley then.
Rafferty replied that part of him believed the man he once trusted was still there.
“I didn't want to be a murderer,” Rafferty said. “I couldn't handle that after all that had happened.”
NO CRY FOR HELP
Under cross-examination, Rafferty admitted he wasn’t forthcoming when he first spoke to investigators.
Paul Scarsella, an assistant attorney general, tried to use one of Rafferty’s statements to show the teen knew all along that Beasley planned to kill Geiger.
The prosecutor also noted that Rafferty had plenty of opportunity to get help between August 2011 and when authorities talked to him three months later.
Page 2 of 2 - “It would have just taken a phone call,” Scarsella said.
“Yes, sir,” Rafferty said.
Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.