AKRON, Ohio – Richard Beasley, a once self-described preacher, will be put to death for luring several men through a fake craigslist advertisement and then murdering three of them in cold blood.
On Thursday morning, Judge Lynne Callahan followed the recommendation made by a Summit County jury last month, and imposed the death penalty for the 53-year-old callous killer.
The jury of eight men and four women reached a death sentence verdict after only a couple of hours of deliberation during the penalty phase.
Prior to sentencing, family members of the victims, who stayed quiet under a gag order for more than a year, lashed out at Beasley. The only survivor of the shootings, Scott Davis, of South Carolina also made a powerful impact statement.
Davis explained what it was like lying in the woods not knowing if he would live or die after Beasley shot him “like a rabid dog.”
“After falling in holes, into barbed wires, I finally made it in the street. I lay in the brush, fearing I would die,” Davis explained. “A warm feeling came over me one more time that said, ‘I got you.’ I walked several miles to the farmhouse and didn’t remember my feet ever touching the ground. Thank you again God for saving me from that beast.”
Beasley remained defiant to the bitter end telling the judge, “I have killed nobody.”
Beasley created a bogus craigslist ad promising a caretaker job on a 688-acre farm in Noble County.
Multiple men, down-on-their luck and looking for work, responded to the ad and met with Beasley in different locations.
Ralph Geiger, of Akron, and David Pauley, of Virginia, were shot and buried in shallow graves in Caldwell, Ohio in 2011.
Timothy Kern, of Massillon, was shot five times in the head and buried in a similar grave behind Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, also in 2011.
During sentencing, Geiger’s friend, Mike Shafer, read a statement on behalf of Geiger’s family. “Our brother was a kind and compassionate man,” Shafer said.
Pauley’s twin sister, Debra Bruce, said 36 nieces and nephews are left without a second father. “You took my best friend, confidant and twin,” she said.
During the trial, Davis identified Beasley as the man who tried to kill him. Davis was shot in the elbow and he hid in a wooded area for several hours before walking to a nearby home for help.
When Beasley testified in his own defense, he unsuccessfully tried to convince the jury that Davis tried to shoot him.