Ohio Craigslist Murders: Teen Suspect Not Eligible for Death Penalty

Attempted murder suspect Brogan Rafferty told his father he didn't shoot anyone.

November 29, 2011, 10:12 AM

AKRON, Ohio Nov. 29, 2011 — -- The 16-year-old suspect in an Ohio Craigslist murder spree is now facing four murder-related charges. If he is tried as a juvenile and convicted of the highest charge, aggravated murder, he would likely be out of prison by the time he's 21. But if suspect Brogan Rafferty is tried and convicted of the highest charges as an adult, he could face life in prison.

Either way, he is not eligible for the death penalty since he is under the age of 18.

Rafferty has been charged with attempted murder, complicity to attempted murder, aggravated murder and complicity to aggravated murder. The latter two charges were added Tuesday by a Noble County, Ohio, judge.

The court was expected to decide whether Rafferty will be tried as an adult or juvenile on Tuesday, but a technicality related to giving sufficient notification to Rafferty's parents for the hearing prevented the decision from being made.

When asked questions regarding the killings of three men who responded to a job ad on Craigslist, Rafferty repeatedly said, "No comment."

Addressing the question of whether Rafferty will be charged as an adult or a juvenile, David Diroll, director of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission, told ABCNews.com,"Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds charged with some kind of murder are usually bound for adult court. Whether they're convicted of the highest charge would depend on a lot of things, but they could face other adult punishments, including life in prison."

Rafferty's alleged co-conspirator and mentor, 52-year-old Rich Beasely, will be in court Thursday for drug charges and Friday for prostitution charges.

Earlier today, Rafferty's father, Michael Rafferty, told ABC News that his son unwittingly dug some of the shallow graves the victims were buried in, thinking they were drainage ditches.

"I think he probably didn't realize what he was involved in until it was too late and that he was in fear for his life and the lives of the people he loved," Michael Rafferty told "Good Morning America."

Rafferty said that his son Brogan told him that he did not shoot anyone and was under the spell of Beasley, who had been his mentor.

"To think that my son would be capable of masterminding some kind of crazy scheme like this, that's beyond belief," Michael Rafferty said.

The father said he feels tremendous guilt for introducing his son to Beasley, a purported chaplain with an extensive criminal record. Beasley spent 15 of the past 30 years in prison, public records show.

"I trusted him with my son, the most precious thing in the world to me, and it sure bit me now," Rafferty said.

Beasley and Brogan Rafferty were arrested on Nov. 16. Beasley was arrested for previous charges related to prostitution and drugs, while Rafferty was charged with attempted murder.

Beasley and Rafferty are suspected in the Craigslist killings of three men and wounding a fourth man. Police have said they believe the motive of the killings to be robbery.

The victims allegedly responded to an ad on Craigslist for a job working on an Ohio cattle farm. The men were told to bring all of their belongings since they would be living on the farm.

In a jailhouse letter to his father, Brogan Rafferty apologized for putting his father in a difficult position and expressed his hope that he could forgive him.

"From what I hear, it's not looking good for me," Rafferty wrote. "They're more concerned with hanging me than helping me."

The teen also wrote about his fear that decades in prison would mean that most of his loved ones would be dead by the time he got out.

"I talked to my lawyer. He says there's a chance I might be out by the time I'm 42," Rafferty wrote. "I know there is no way in hell that any kind of God would do that to me. I think about this, considering that all my meaningful family members would be dead, all my aunts and uncles, my grandmother and possibly my grandfather. You and mom would be dead or dying."

The mothers of both Beasley and Rafferty stand behind their sons.

Beasley's mother Carol Beasley, 70, told ABCNews.com that her son struggled to make ends meet as an unpaid chaplain and that he desperately did not want to go back to jail.

"Our family stands behind Richard," Beasley said. "He's always been a loving kid and a very giving person who cared about others. He spent hours helping people, praying over people that were dying … so many things."

Carol Beasley said that her son acted as a mentor for Rafferty and tried to get him interested in history, since the boy struggled in school after his parents' divorce.

Yvette Rafferty told "GMA" that her son was manipulated by Beasley and that he is innocent.

"I know one thing. My son told me that he didn't do it. And I believe it," Rafferty said. "There is a monster here. But it's not my son."

The first victim has been identified as David Pauley, 51, from Norfolk, Va., and the second victim as Timothy Kern, 47, of Massilon, Ohio.

On Tuesday, the Licking County Coroner's Office released a preliminary autopsy report for the third victim, whom they identified as John Doe, but noted on the report that he is "suspected" to be Ralph Geiger. The report said that the victim suffered a "penetrating GSW [gun shot wound] to head and injury to brain."

Beasley has an extensive criminal history and two Akron, Ohio, churches linked to Beasley have denied any direct connection to him.

Court records from Ohio show that Beasley had been in trouble with authorities as recently as February 2011 for charges including drug trafficking, aggravated menacing, tampering with evidence and possession of criminal tools.

Court documents from Texas show arrests and convictions for charges including burglary and the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Beasley spent about four years in prison in Texas.

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