During sometimes combative testimony, Richard J. Beasley, the man accused of luring three men to their deaths with a fake job posting on the Internet, called his accusers liars.
During sometimes combative testimony Wednesday, Richard J. Beasley, the man accused of luring three men to their deaths with a fake job posting on the Internet, called his accusers liars and denied committing the murders.
During about 45 minutes of cross-examination, Beasley talked over the prosecutor when the attorney told the defendant he shot and killed Ralph H. Geiger, 56, of Akron, along with David M. Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va., and Timothy Kern, 47, of Jackson Township.
“You’re a liar,” Beasley snapped, raising his voice during the most-heated exchange. “I did not do it ... it did not happen.”
Beasley admitted to some involvement with posting an ad on Craigslist for a caretaker position on a sprawling Noble County farm property. He also acknowledged meeting with at least some of the victims in the case. However, Beasley blamed the killings on others who were part of what a prosecutor derisively called a motorcycle gang conspiracy.
Beasley could face the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder and other charges in his 27-count indictment.
Beasley cited motorcycle gangs he said were violent and dangerous. He also said he had served as an informant for the Akron Police Department’s gang unit and feared for his safety.
At times, Beasley, who rose out of his wheelchair to take the witness stand, got defiant and agitated but often was calm, speaking softly and firmly while answering a barrage of questions about the three men who died, cellphone calls and statements others said Beasley had made to them.
He mentioned both the Northside and Brothers motorcycle clubs, and claimed that Jerry Hood Jr. and Scott W. Davis, formerly of Massillon, conspired in an attempt to kill him. Beasley also said Hood was involved with the Craigslist help-wanted listing. The defendant was friends with Hood and his father, Jerry Hood Sr. The family lives in Noble County.
DENIES SHOOTING WITNESS
He disputed statements made by Davis, the former Stark County man who testified last week that he was lured by a phony Craigslist ad for a job watching over the farm. Davis said he was walking in remote woods with Beasley when Beasley shot him in the arm. Davis said he hid in the woods for several hours before eventually making it to safety and getting medical attention.
The killings and Craigslist plot occurred in late summer and the fall of 2011, according to authorities.
Beasley said the opposite happened. He accused Davis of firing a handgun at him, claiming the firearm misfired. The men struggled over the gun, he said.
Sixteen jurors, including alternates, looked on, their expressions usually stone-faced. At one point, Jack Kern, father of Timothy Kern, shook his head while listening to Beasley, resting his hand on his wife’s back.
Page 2 of 3 - Asked about a grave that had been dug in the area where the encounter with Davis occurred, Beasley said it was 7 feet long and meant for him, given his size. Davis was too short for the hole, Beasley said.
Asked about Davis’ statements, Beasley bristled. “He lied through his teeth.”
Jonathan S. Baumoel, an assistant Summit County prosecuting attorney, hammered Beasley with questions about the victims and about the defendant stealing the identity of one of them, Geiger. Beasley admitted to changing his appearance, dying his beard and mustache.
Taking on Geiger’s identity was the only way he could get medication and jobs, Beasley said, citing his criminal record.
Beasley often said he didn’t remember when grilled about details of the case. Responded Baumoel, “It seems like it’s some selective memory, sir.”
The prosecution also asked about Brogan Rafferty, a Stow teenager convicted of aggravated murder in the deaths of Pauley, Kern and Geiger. In his trial last fall, prosecutors portrayed Rafferty as Beasley’s accomplice. Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. He hasn’t testified in Beasley’s trial.
During cross examination, it was unclear whether Beasley included Rafferty in the conspiracy.
“I thought they were going to kill him, too,” Beasley said, referring to Rafferty, who was 16 at the time of the crimes.
Baumoel seized on what he said were contradictions between Beasley’s testimony and statements he had made to authorities.
In 2011, Beasley had at least one warrant issued for his arrest, and he said he didn’t want to go back to jail.
Around the time of his arrest, Beasley said he had hit his head on something. “I wasn’t really in a clear state of mind,” he said.
When questions turned to cellphone records, showing calls made between prepaid phones and victims, Beasley acknowledged he may have made some of the calls, but also stressed that he often was forgetful with his cellphone and often left it in a vehicle.
“Just because the phone was there doesn’t mean I was there.”
WORKING WITH POLICE
During afternoon testimony, Lawrence Whitney, one of Beasley’s attorneys, made an effort to reinforce the motorcycle connections raised by his client.
Two motorcycle gangs were named by Whitney -- Northcoast and Brothers, both based in the Akron area, according to police testimony.
Keith Meadows, an Akron detective who focuses on gangs, said he talked with Beasley about motorcycle clubs, as well as Jerry Hood Sr., a longtime member of the Brothers motorcycle group.
The Noble County sheriff testified previously that Jerry Hood Jr. was an initial suspect in the Craigslist case, but he soon ruled him out as the perpetrator or having any involvement. A slew of investigators have testified in the case, but none have linked the elder or younger Hood or Davis to the crimes.
Page 3 of 3 - Meadows told a prosecuting attorney that Beasley had never formally worked as an informant. Their discussions took place between August 2010 and January 2011. Beasley’s information also did not lead to any arrests or convictions.
The detective also said he was unaware of any association Beasley had with the Brothers motorcycle club.
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