The capital murder trial of Richard James Beasley continued Monday with prosecutors presenting testimony linking him to co-defendant Brogan Rafferty and to the four victims of their alleged plot.
A case investigator recovered a computer registered to the ex-wife of Timothy Kern, who was shot to death Nov. 13, 2011, and a forensic computer analyst from the state crime lab, Allan Buxton, told the jury he found multiple emails from Kern responding to the ad for the nonexistent farm job that led to his death.
Kern was the last of the so-called Craigslist killings victims.
Buxton also testified that a case investigator recovered a computer from Rafferty’s residence in Stow. On this computer, Buxton said, he found a Facebook photo of Rafferty and Beasley side by side.
The photo was shown to the jury on a big-screen courtroom television.
Monday marked the start of the second week of the evidentiary phase of Beasley’s Summit County trial in connection with the slayings of three men and the attempted murder of a fourth man, Scott William Davis, who escaped and provided authorities with much of the information that led them to both defendants.
If Beasley, 53, is convicted of any of the three aggravated murder counts, he could be sentenced to death.
Rafferty, now 17, was convicted of aggravated murder late last year. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole by Common Pleas Judge Lynne Callahan, who also is handling Beasley’s case.
Rafferty was 16 at the time of the crimes.
In other developments Monday, much of it direct testimony by evidence specialists from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the jury saw the last text messages from Kern to his son, Nicholas, now 19.
On the morning of Nov. 13, the day he was shot, Kern texted this message: “Well son, I’m about to go. I will miss you. In long run this will be better. I’ll be up a lot and you and your friends can come visit when you can. Your very special.”
It ended: “Meantime remember how much I love you!!!!”
In court Friday, the jury watched video footage from a security camera, dated four days before the Kern shooting. It appeared to show him meeting with Beasley at a Waffle House off Interstate 77 in Springfield Township.
Nicholas Kern had taken his father there to discuss what he thought was going to be his dream job. But on Nov. 25, Kern’s body was found buried in a shallow grave behind Rolling Acres Mall in Akron. His cellphone was with him.
Buxton also testified about his analysis of a laptop computer found at a Gridley Avenue home where Beasley had been living before his arrest. He said the computer contained an advertisement on the website Backpage.com.
Buxton told the jury that ad appeared to match the description of the farm job in Noble County, where the bodies of Ralph Geiger, the first victim, and David Pauley, the second victim, were found.
The ad stated: “This could be the job of a lifetime for someone who likes seclusion and privacy. If you cannot handle being a mile from your neighbor, this is not the job for you.”
Monday’s final witness, an evidence analyst from BCI, gave the jury his detailed findings from numerous cellphone calls in the days surrounding the Davis shooting, Nov. 6, along with the days surrounding the disappearances of both Pauley and Kern.
When Summit Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel summed up those findings for the jury, he asked the analyst if the calls were linked to Rafferty’s cellphone number.
The BCI expert said they were.
Prosecutors opened the trial by telling the jury that Beasley preyed on his victims — men down on their luck and looking for work — after they responded to his Craigslist ad for the bogus farm job.
Beacon Journal news partner NewsChannel 5 contributed to this report.