Summit County Common Pleas Court jury announced its decision at 6 p.m. Wednesday after a few hours of deliberation in Judge Lynn Callahan’s court.
Richard Beasley should get the death penalty for killing three men in 2011 and other related crimes, a jury recommended on Wednesday.
The Summit County Common Pleas Court panel announced its decision around 6:15 p.m. after three hours of deliberation in Judge Lynne Callahan’s court.
“They made the right decision," said Jack Kern, father of victim Timothy Kern of Jackson Township. “... They knew in their heart what they had to do.”
Flanked by family members of each victim, Jack Kern recounted the difficult year and a half they have gone through. He said he thinks of his son daily.
“They killed him for $5, " he said as tears rolled down his face.
Beasley’s mother, Carol, read her Bible in the hallway before the decision was read. Inside the courtroom moments later, her head fell into her hands and she sobbed as she learned her son’s fate.
The judge will formally sentence Beasley on Tuesday afternoon.
She is not bound by the jury’s recommendation to impose the death sentence. She could instead opt for a life sentence, although judges rarely go against the jury’s wishes in such cases.
Beasley, 53, of Akron was convicted of killing David Pauley of Virginia, Ralph Geiger of Akron — both were shot and buried in southern Ohio — and Timothy Kern of Jackson Township, who was buried in a wooded area behind Rolling Acres Mall in Akron.
Prosecutors said the men were lured by the promise of a job as caretaker for a property in Noble County. Beasley created a bogus help wanted ad on Craigslist to target down-and-out applicants he could rob and murder to change his identity, they said.
Beasley was found by the jury to be the principal offender in all but Kern’s death. An accomplice, Brogan Rafferty, 17, of Stow, was given a life sentence with no chance for parole in November for his role in the crimes.
The same jury last week convicted Beasley on 26 counts, including nine counts of aggravated murder for the deaths of the three men and the attempted murder of a fourth, Scott Davis, a South Carolina resident formerly of Stark County.
Davis’ mother, Diana Davis, said she was satisfied with the jury’s decision. Her son, who was not present, is still in severe pain, she said. He was shot but escaped by hiding in the woods for hours before emerging and alerting authorities.
“Justice was served,” she said. “Hopefully he will suffer some of the pain he caused these men.”
Earlier in the day, in an attempt to spare her son’s life, Carol Beasley told jurors that her son was abandoned by his biological father and then physically and emotionally abused by his adoptive father as a child.
Page 2 of 2 - She recalled a time when her husband Jim, now 84, whipped their son with an extension cord because he was riding his tricycle in the house. She called her husband a “mean drunk” who neglected the family. Jim Beasley adopted Richard to keep his biological father from coming around, but never once told him he loved him, Carol testified.
Carol Beasley was one of three witnesses called Wednesday morning during the second phase of the trial.
She recounted getting pregnant with Richard at age 16 and then moving away from home. It was a “terrible thing” to have a child out of wedlock. Harold Demmel, Beasley’s biological father, was married to another woman when Carol learned she was pregnant. The two eventually wed, but it was a marriage doomed from the start, she said. Things only became worse during her second marriage.
Dr. John Fabian, a forensic neuropsychologist, said Richard Beasley’s early childhood experiences with abuse were the root for the depression and personality disorders Beasley would come to suffer from as an adult. He said Beasley is narcissistic and anti-social. He also testified that Beasley still suffers from attention deficit hyper activity disorder, which he was first diagnosed with in the fourth grade. He called Beasley “highly intelligent,” but someone with a distorted sense of self who has had troubled bonding with others.
In his final remarks to jurors, Larry Whitney, Beasley’s attorney, said they should consider his childhood when determining his fate.
“The root of all this...is what occurred in the first few years of his life,” Whitney said. “Is he to blame for that?”
Callahan allowed Rafferty’s sentence to be disclosed to jurors, stipulating that it must be revealed that he received the maximum sentence under law for someone his age. Whitney said Rafferty’s role, specifically in Kern’s death, should be weighed significantly by the jury.
Prosecutor Paul Scarsella of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said in his closing argument that nothing in the testimony Wednesday diminished the "appropriateness of the death penalty.”
“There is only one verdict,” he said, “and that is a death verdict.”
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