Maybe it was fitting the sentencing for the man dubbed the mastermind of the Craigslist Killings would come more than an hour after it was scheduled to start, with the courtroom cleared of family members prepared to deliver victim impact statements for a meeting ahead of Judge Lynne S. Callahan's decision on life or death for Richard Beasley.
It didn't happen today.
Callahan called family members into a meeting and, with representatives from both sides present, told them the sentencing would be continued until 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 4. The motion to postpone was made by Beasley co-defense council Larry Whitney. Lead defense lawyer Jim Burdon was not present in the courtroom, but Whitney said he was O.K.
Callahan thanked the court in a brief hearing for their patience, only saying "...sometimes things happen that are unexpected and inevitable."
Beasley was wheeled into court after 2:30 p.m. wearing orange-and-white striped Summit County jail overalls. He'd made his court appearances in a wheelchair, citing severe back pain. He appeared to slump down, holding onto a metal cane. His white hair was swept back, and he still wears the snow-white goatee he's been sporting since going on trial for the murders.
The case against Richard Beasley officially stated January 20, 2012 when charges were filed against him. The murders took place over a period starting in late August, 2011 through November of that year.
There was speculation Beasley's defense team had a last-minute medical emergency that kept them from attending the scheduled 1:15 p.m. hearing, and the hearing itself was rescheduled for another time. AkronNewsNow's Mike Ward reported from the Summit County Courthouse that some family members, photo at left by Mike Ward, were seen leaving using the courthouse elevator following a meeting with court officials in another courtroom.
In closing statements to the jury considering their recommendation last week, prosecutors painted Beasley as "the worst of the worst" and the exact candidate in mind for Ohio's death penalty. The same jury that convicted Beasley of the murder of three men and wounding of a third took a tad bit over two hours to agreed Beasley should be put to death. Now Summit County Common Pleas Judge Callahan will weigh in with the decision that counts next week. She could accept the jury recommendation or instead choose life in prison.
The former Akron street preacher was convicted of using the popular "Craigslist" site to market what turned out to be bogus help-wanted ads for a farmhand job in southern Ohio, all to lure the victims to their death as part of a ID theft scheme.
Beasley claimed he was targeted by an Akron motorcycle club he'd agreed to spy on for local police, his defense painting a picture of a man straddling two worlds. Jurors didn't buy the argument, taking about a day and a half to find him guilty of all counts in the murders of Ralph Geiger, Timothy Kern and David Pauley. A fourth man, Scott Davis, was shot and wounded in the elbow but managed to escape Beasley and his accomplice, 16-year old Brogan Rafferty, to hide in the woods in Noble County before seeking help. Davis later provided key testimony against both Beasley and Rafferty.
Most of Beasley and Rafferty's victims were lured to the farm site in Noble County, north of Marietta, on the promise of a farmhand job paying wages and providing room and board. Instead their meetings with the pair, both at the farm and at the site of the former Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, turned deadly. The bodies of Geiger and Pauley were found in shallow graves on the farm site near Caldwell, Ohio; Kern's body was discovered in a shallow gave near the Rolling Acres site, powered in part by statements given by Rafferty.
The case became known as the Craigslist Killings case because, as F.B.I. and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation analysts testified, Beasley used the online site to post help-wanted ads.
story updated at 3:10 with additional information on defense counsel