Ohio man sentenced to death for Craigslist plot

AKRON, Ohio (AP) – A self-styled street preacher was sentenced to death Thursday in the killings of three down-and-out men lured by bogus job offers posted on Craigslist. Two of the men were killed in Noble County.

The jury that convicted Richard Beasley of murder recommended that he face execution. The judge had the option of reducing the sentence to life in prison.

Beasley, 53, was convicted of teaming up with a teenager in 2011 to use the promise of jobs on a southeast Ohio farm to lure them into robberies. Three men were killed, and a fourth who was wounded testified at Beasley’s trial.

The judge read the three death sentences in a hushed courtroom crowded with victims’ relatives, some of them holding back tears.

Beasley skipped the chance to speak to the judge before the sentencing. He asked to speak later, but the judge said that was his chance, and he passed on it. He listened to the verdict with his head on his chest, sitting in a wheelchair he uses for back pain.

Later, about to be sentenced on other crimes including kidnapping, Beasley said he sympathized with the families of victims but said he was innocent and expects to have his conviction overturned on appeal.

“This case will be reversed,” said Beasley, whose statement was cut short by the judge. She said he could comment on the sentencing only.

Beasley’s co-defendant, who was 16 at the time of the crimes, was too young to face the death penalty. Brogan Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole on his conviction last year.