The murder trial of Richard Beasley, the Ohio street preacher and accused "Craigslist killer" who allegedly lured four men to his Ohio farm with the intent to murder them, is now in the hands of the 12 men and women of the jury.
Beasley, 53, is accused of murdering Ralph Geiger, 56, Timothy Kern, 47, and David Pauley, 51. He allegedly lured them to a farm near Caldwell, Ohio by writing a Craigslist help wanted ad for a farmhand job.
Scott Davis, who was shot and is considered to be the sole survivor, tipped off police. He was shot a short distance from where the others were discovered in November of 2011 buried in shallow graves.
If convicted, Beasley could face the death penalty.
Lawyers in the case set a choice for the jurors: to label Beasley a bloodthirsty murderer or a victim of terrible coincidence.
Assistant Summit Count Prosecutor Jon Baumoel called for jurors to "use [their] common sense," arguing that Beasley, on parole from prison in Texas, killed Geiger to assume his identity and avoid parole, and the others to steal their property.
"Ralph Geiger, Scott Davis, Timothy Kern and David Pauley were easy targets and why were they easy targets in this case because they were desperate," Baumoel said. "They were desperate for a better life. They wanted hope. They wanted a second chance and because of that they were easy prey for a master manipulator."
Defense attorney James Burdon dismissed the prosecution's argument, claiming the very desperation that supposedly made the victims "easy targets" also made them unlikely targets.
"Why would you kill Ralph Geiger? The whole idea of this Craigslist ad was to lure people with property to southern Ohio; that’s their theory: to steal their property. What did Ralph Geiger have? There’s no debate here; Ralph Geiger on August 8 was living at the Haven of Rest. He was ‘down on his luck.’ There was nothing to steal."
Burdon said Beasley's meetings with the men were in public places and evidence tying him to the murders was thin.
Beasley is facing 26 charges, including firearms charges and kidnapping, as well as nine counts of aggravated murder.