An Ohio teenager was found guilty of three counts of aggravated murder for his role in a deadly Craigslist scheme that lured job seekers with phony employment.
Brogan Rafferty, 17, of Stow, Ohio, faces up to life in prison for the deadly Craigslist scheme when he is sentenced Nov. 5. Although Rafferty was prosecuted as an adult, he is not eligible for the death penalty because he is a juvenile.
Jurors, who deliberated for four days, did not believe the case argued by Rafferty’s defense. The Ohio teenager’s attorneys claimed Rafferty was manipulated by suspect Richard Beasley into committing the crimes because he feared Beasley would kill him.
Prosecutors said Beasley and Rafferty lured four men to a location in Noble County that they purported was a cattle farm. Through Craigslist, Beasley and Rafferty advertised work on the “cattle farm,” but their intention was robbery, according to the Associated Press.
Beasley allegedly committed the murders. He has yet to have a trial.
Rafferty’s role in the killings involved digging graves for the victims, which the teen admitting to doing at trial, according to the Canton Repository newspaper.
Rafferty was stoic as the guilty verdict was read, according to the AP. He then got up, shook his head and said, “nothing to say,” to his mother.
The Ohio teen took the stand during the trial and said he acted under duress.
"I thought he'd kill me," Rafferty said, referring to Beasley.
Prosecutor Emily Pelphrey said the Ohio teen, whom she called a “student of violent crime,” was a willing accomplice in the scheme.
"He made the choices he wanted to make," Pelphrey said, according to the AP.
Jury forewoman Dana Nash told the AP the jury did not buy Rafferty’s story.
"We were trying to be fair, and we were fair," Nash told the AP after the trial. "We listened to everything, we observed everything, and we feel we made the right decision."
Prosecutors had a key witness in the trial that sealed Rafferty’s fate.
Scott Davis, a 49-year-old South Carolina man who responded to the phony Craigslist ad, survived being shot in the arm. He was the sole victim of the scheme to survive.
Davis fingered Rafferty as Beasley’s accomplice during the trial and described his brush with death.
The South Carolina man said he was lured into a wooded area to look at nonexistent farm equipment, and when he turned around a gun was pointed at his head. He said he moved the gun away from his face and was shot in the arm instead, according to the AP.
Three other men – Ralph Grieger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massilon, Ohio – weren’t so lucky. Prosecutors said the three men were targeted in the deadly Craigslist scheme because of their age and they were unemployed. All of them were robbed, with a gun and truck among the items stolen from the three victims.
A man on the jury who did not want to be identified said Rafferty’s words helped him reach his verdict.
“This was not one man intimidating another,” the juror told the Repository. “They were acting jointly.”