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Teen suspect in Craigslist shooting considering deal to testify vs. alleged mentor

This news story was published on December 18, 2011.
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By Phil Trexler, Akron Beacon Journal

CALDWELL, Ohio — Brogan Rafferty, the teenage suspect in the Craigslist shootings, is cooperating with investigators and is considering a plea deal to testify against his former mentor, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Rafferty, 16, appeared in Noble County Juvenile Court, where during a brief hearing his public defender did not contest the transfer of the case for adult prosecution.

The high school junior is charged with murder and attempted murder in the attacks of two men who answered a Craigslist ad for a bogus job. Judge John W. Nau ordered Rafferty held under a $1 million bond.

The case is expected to go before a county grand jury where additional charges are expected. As a juvenile, Rafferty cannot be jailed with adults and will remain in the Muskingum (Ohio) Juvenile Detention Center while the case is pending.

Outside the courtroom, Noble County Prosecutor Clifford Sickler said the grand jury hearing is a precursor to a plea deal in the works. He said Rafferty is cooperating with investigators.

Sickler would not go into detail about the plea arrangement or how much time Rafferty would serve in prison. He did say the plea bargain calls for Rafferty to testify against Richard Beasley, 52, the alleged mastermind of the Craigslist scheme.

“I don’t know if it will happen this quick, this month,” Sickler said in response to a question about when Rafferty might plead.

A deal could spare Rafferty from the maximum penalty: life in prison without the possibility of parole. His attorney, Jack Blakeslee, declined to comment to reporters after the hearing.

Neither Rafferty nor his mother, Yvette Rafferty, commented as they left the courtroom.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, whose office will handle the Beasley case, has pledged to seek the death penalty against him. He has yet to be indicted in the killings and is being held without bond on unrelated charges.

So far, three shooting deaths and one assault have been linked to the Internet ad, which lured poor, single men to a job offering $300 a week and free housing to oversee a farm in Noble County. The job didn’t exist.

Rafferty is charged with aggravated murder and attempted murder. He is accused of helping Beasley in at least two shootings: a fatal attack on David Pauley, 51, of Virginia, and the Nov. 6 wounding of Scott Davis, 48, formerly of Canton, Ohio.

Two other shooting deaths have been linked to the scheme.

The body of Timothy Kern, 48, of Massillon, Ohio, was found near the former Rolling Acres Mall in southwest Akron, Ohio, on Nov. 25. The body of Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron, also was found Nov. 25; it was near the site where Pauley was buried in Noble County.

Beasley mentored Rafferty for several years. He volunteered at an Akron church and also operated his own transitional facility to help the downtrodden.

He has told his attorney he is innocent of any of the shootings.
©2011 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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