US & Canada

Craigslist killer accomplice Brogan Rafferty convicted

Brogan Rafferty takes notes during morning proceedings in the courtroom at the Summit County Common Pleas Court in Akron Ohio 25 October 2012
Image caption Brogan Rafferty was 16 when arrested in 2011 for being an accomplice to the murders

A teenager accused of helping kill three men who responded to a fake job advert on the Craigslist website has been convicted of aggravated murder.

Brogan Rafferty, 17, helped Richard Beasley lure victims with bogus ads for a nonexistent rural Ohio cattle farm.

Mr Beasley has pleaded not guilty to the charges, including the attempted killing of a fourth man.

Rafferty faces up to life in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on 5 November.

He was tried as an adult but will not face the death penalty because he is a juvenile.

Prosecutors argued during the trial that Rafferty was a quick student of violence and a willing participant in the killings, while defence lawyers say he went along with Mr Beasley's plan because he feared for his life.

The man who survived, 49-year-old Scott Davis, testified during the weeks-long trial, as the prosecution's star witness. He identified Rafferty as Mr Beasley's accomplice.

Mr Davis said he responded to a Craigslist ad to work as a farmhand, and met Rafferty and a man who called himself "Jack" for breakfast before driving to an isolated farm.

Prosecutors say that "Jack" was actually Mr Beasley, and that he urged Mr Davis into a wooded area to look for farm equipment.

Mr Davis told the court he heard a gun cock and turned around to find himself face-to-face with a handgun, but pushed it aside and was shot in the arm. He fled, found a house and called police.

The three men killed were Ralph Geiger, 56, David Pauley, 51 and Timothy Kern, 47. Officials say they were targeted because they were older, single, out-of-work men with backgrounds that made it unlikely their disappearances would be noticed quickly.

On Tuesday, Rafferty stood with his hands clasped behind his back and showed no emotion as the convictions were read.

The Ohio jury of seven women and five men took 20 hours to reach verdicts on 25 counts. Rafferty was acquitted of on a charge of identity theft.

Jury forewoman Dana Nash said it was a difficult decision because of Rafferty's age, calling him "a child", but that jurors were sceptical of some of the 17-year-old's testimony, saying they felt he contradicted himself.