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Prosecutors highlight identity theft at 'Craigslist killer' trial

February 26, 2013|By Marisa Gerber
  • A Summit County sheriff's deputy wheels defendant Richard Beasley to the elevator at the conclusion of testimony in his murder trial in Summit County Court on Monday in Akron, Ohio.
A Summit County sheriff's deputy wheels defendant Richard Beasley… (Michael Chritton / Akron…)

As the capital murder trial of the Ohio man accused of murdering three men after luring them in Craigslist ads with the promise of work in 2011 entered its second day Tuesday, the jury had already heard two stark descriptions of the defendant.

Prosecutors painted 53-year-old Richard Beasley, dubbed the “Craigslist Killer,” as a manipulative murderer who preyed on down-on-their-luck job seekers. The defense, however, told the Summit County jury that although Beasley wasn’t perfect, they planned to prove that the physically ailing man wasn’t a murderer.  

During her opening statement Monday, some of which was broadcast by local news stations, Emily Pelphrey of the Ohio attorney general's office made a biblical reference to false prophets calling Beasley “the wolf in sheep’s clothing."

She also told the Summit County jury the prosecution planned to show evidence that Beasley stole the identity of one of his victims, Ralph Geiger, 56, and then applied for a job pretending to be him.

Defense attorney James Burdon’s opening statements seem to suggest Beasley’s fragile physical state will play a role in how he argues the case, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. “He's not an invalid,” Burdon said. “It's very clear, however, that he is badly impaired.”

Video from inside the courtroom Monday shows Beasley slouched down in a wheelchair and clutching a cane in his hand.  

Suspected co-conspirator Brogan Rafferty, who is now 18 and was tried as an adult for his role in the murders, was sentenced in November to life in prison. During his trial, he described Beasley as manipulating him into helping with the crimes.

“He is evil, in my opinion: deceitful, cruel and a murderer,” Rafferty said of Beasley. “I was involved. I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t do it if I had any other choice.”

The prosecution continued arguing its case Tuesday, according to Judge Lynne Callahan’s bailiff. The case is expected to stretch at least into next week. Beasley is charged with the murders of Geiger; David Pauley, 51; and Timothy Kern, 47.

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marisa.gerber@latimes.com

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