AKRON, Ohio — The defense rested Wednesday afternoon, after accused Craigslist killer, Richard Beasley testified that the first victim of the so-called Craigslist killings, Ralph Geiger, was actually a friend of his who he knew through a motorcycle club.
Beasley admitted having a burglary conviction from Texas when he was in his 20s and later was also convicted on a federal charge of possessing a firearm under disability, and as a result was also on probation.
He testified that he later wanted to start his life over and that included making a conscious decision to change his identity.
Beasley testified that Geiger offered to help him do that.
“(Geiger) provided me; he had more than one driver’s license. He provided me with a driver’s license and a social security card,” said Beasley from the witness stand.
“What was Ralph Geiger going to do so there was not two Ralph Geigers running around?” asked defense attorney James Burdon.
“He went down to the farm,” answered Beasley.
“What farm?” asked Burdon.
“Jerry Hood’s farm,” said Beasley.
Jerry Hood is a man who lived in the rural area where Geiger’s body was later found in a shallow grave.
Beasley testified that he met Jerry Hood “through mutual friends casually in the early 90s” and “just knew him as an acquaintance.”
Beasley testified that Hood was affiliated with the Brothers Motorcycle gang, testifying, “they are a violent organization.”
He testified that he got Geiger’s identity documents early in 2011 and saw Geiger once or twice during the summer after getting his identity.
Under oath, Beasley also testified that the father of his co-defendant, Brogan Rafferty, was also affiliated with biker gangs that have a violent reputation.
Rafferty, 19, of Stow, was convicted last year of related crimes and is currently serving a life sentence.
He was not called to testify in Beasley’s trial before prosecutors rested first thing Wednesday morning.
Beasley described Rafferty: “He was big, real big … huge, I’ll bet he is 6’6″ or 6’7″. His dad had him working out with weights since he was 5 years old.”
When asked if he helped put a help wanted advertisement on Craigslist for a farmhand job in southern Ohio, Beasley answered, “absolutely.”
He testified that he helped Jerry Hood, Jr. place the ad because Hood told him his father was not able to care for their property any more and needed someone to help.
“(Jerry Hood, Jr.) did most of the computer work and asked me to do the interviews,” said Beasley.
“What was in it for you?” asked Burdon.
“I figured maybe some day I would have to leave Akron, when someone figured out I was not Ralph Geiger.”
“That would be a place for you to hide? Hide from a probation violation?” asked Burdon.
“Yes,” answered Beasley.
When asked how he made a decision about who would get the job, Beasley said that was not his responsibility.
“That was all (Jerry Hood, Jr.). That was his decision; it was their property,” said Beasley.
He testified that he interviewed maybe 10 or 15 people for the job.
When asked what motivated him to use different names, Beasley said this:
“I thought I was comfortable and secure living as Ralph Geiger. I didn’t want somebody to say, ‘Oh, that guy, that’s not Richard Beasley, that’s Ralph Geiger,’ and blow his cover.”
Beasley admitted to traveling to Caldwell, Ohio, with his alleged accomplice.
“I went down with Brogan Rafferty, yes,” Beasley said. “Part of it, he volunteered, he liked going down to the farm.”
Hood Jr. and Rafferty knew one another. “Both of them were sons of presidents of motorcycle clubs,” Beasley said.
Beasley went on to describe what happened with Scott Davis, 48, of South Carolina, who was shot in the arm but escaped by running and hiding in the woods.
According to Beasley, when Rafferty’s car could not go any farther in Caldwell, he allegedly left Davis and Beasley outside the car.
“Scott Davis then pulled out a revolver and pointed it at my head, and I about urinated in my pants,” Beasley said.
Beasley testified Davis said, “Brother, you are a weak link.”
“He knew I was a rat and an informant, somebody who either is a snitch or is going to be a snitch and you have to take the weak link out of the chain,” said Beasley.
Beasley testified that he was cooperating with authorities, providing information about the activities of the motorcycle clubs.
He also testified that he was using a prostitute as a source of information for other kinds of criminal activity.
When asked what kind of information he was providing, Beasley said:
“Some of it was routine, some of it of no value, I just told them what I saw and heard.”
Beasley testified that he was the one who was the intended murder victim.
“They knew that I was an informant and I was going,” testified Beasley.
“After he said you are a weak link brother, what happened next?” asked Burdon.
Beasley testified that Davis tried shooting him, but had a problem with his gun.
“It missed about three times, and I ran in the woods and (Davis) ran after me. I fell. I was in no condition to run; he got on top of me,” said Beasley.
Beasley testified that he and Davis wrestled for the gun.
“(Davis) yelled when it went off. It went bang quick, he yelled, and I pushed him away,” said Beasley adding that he told Davis, “If you are going to kill me, you are going to have to do it with your hands.”
Davis himself testified last week that he went to Caldwell, Ohio, after he was told that he was hired for the Craigslist farm hand job and that he met Beasley and Rafferty at a restaurant there.
Under oath, Davis said it was Beasley who drew a gun while the two of them were in the woods, that he heard a curse word and then a click and “knew he was in trouble.”
Davis said it was Beasley who shot him in the elbow, then raised the gun to his head as he ran and hid in the woods for seven hours.
It was the information Davis provided to investigators that lead to Beasley’s arrest and to the discovery of the bodies of Ralph Geiger, Timothy Kern and David Pauley.
“I had no idea nobody was killed at the farm, I had no way of knowing,” Beasley testified, explaining that it was something he thought could happen when he became an informant.
“With everything I have been through, it is a wonder I can get out of bed in the morning.”
Closing arguments are expected Thursday morning.
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