Brogan Rafferty, 17, is being tried as an adult in Summit County Common Pleas Court on multiple counts of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and theft. Most of the charges carry weapons specifications.
Defense lawyers indicated Thursday that they will argue that Brogan W. Rafferty was pressured and manipulated when he participated in the killing of three men who answered help-wanted ads posted on Craigslist.
Rafferty, 17, is being tried as an adult in Summit County Common Pleas Court on multiple counts of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and theft. Most of the charges carry weapons specifications.
Prosecutors say Rafferty and Richard J. Beasley, 52 of Akron, worked together and enticed men with the offer of a job and a place to live as caretakers of a farm in Noble County. Three of the men were killed. A fourth escaped after he was shot in an arm.
Beasley faces similar charges. His case is set for trial early next year.
The crimes occurred from August through November 2011 when Rafferty was 16. The teen had met Beasley through a church they attended.
PICKING A JURY
Rafferty’s trial began Tuesday in Judge Lynne S. Callahan’s court with a three-day jury selection process. Thursday afternoon lawyers from both sides settled on a jury of seven women and five men, along with six alternates.
The process started with Callahan and lawyers meeting potential jurors in groups of eight. During sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning the pool was reduced from 139 to 60 potential jurors.
On Thursday afternoon, a general selection process began with prosecutors and defense lawyers asking the potential jurors about their ability to hear the case. Nine of the final 60 jurors were excused quickly because job or family obligations prevented them from participating in the trial, which could last six weeks.
During Thursday's session defense lawyer Jill Flagg asked jurors if they understood duress, and she suggested that Rafferty should be acquitted if evidence showed the teenager acted under duress when the victims were killed. Prosecutors objected, but Flagg was permitted to restate the question.
Because Callahan has told lawyers not to discuss the case, Flagg declined to comment when asked about her questions for jurors.
Flagg also asked jurors for their opinions on teenagers acting irresponsibly and keeping information away from adults; whether any of them owned guns; how far they might go to protect their family; and about children not telling adults if they have been threatened.
While Rafferty — who is more than 6-feet tall — might look like a man, he's still a child and shouldn't be judged on only his appearance, Flagg said. “I wasn't expecting a person who looked like a man when I met him.”
Testimony is to begin Friday morning.
It’s anticipated that Scott Davis, a 49-year-old South Carolina man with Stark County ties, will be one of the early witnesses. Davis was shot and wounded last Nov. 6 after going to a Noble County property with Rafferty and Beasley. Davis escaped and that led to the investigation and eventual arrests.
Page 2 of 2 - Investigators found two bodies — Ralph H. Geiger, 56, of Akron, and David M. Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va., — buried on the Noble County property where Davis was shot.
The body of the third victim, 47-year-old Jackson Township resident Timothy J. Kern, was found in a shallow grave near Rolling Acres Mall in Akron.