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Prosecutors on Friday presented ballistic evidence they say establishes a strong link between bullets recovered from the bodies of two of the victims in the Craigslist murder case and shooting suspect Richard James Beasley of Akron.
Testimony by Jonathan Gardner, a firearms identification expert with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, came on the fifth day of Beasley’s capital murder trial.
Gardner told a Summit County jury that a badly deformed bullet recovered from the second murder victim, David Pauley, 51, of Virginia, was “similar in characteristics” to the bullet recovered from the third victim, Scott William Davis, the lone survivor of the 2011 shootings in southern Ohio.
Davis, in a chilling description of how he was shot, told the jury Tuesday morning he was hit once in the right elbow and fled, running as fast as he could until he managed to escape by hiding behind a tree in dense woods.
Stepping down from the witness stand near the conclusion of his testimony, Davis identified Beasley, 53, who was sitting in a wheelchair, as the man who shot him.
Testimony showed that Davis gave state and federal investigators much of the information that led to Beasley’s arrest by the FBI on Nov. 16, 2011, in Akron.
Gardner testified that the bullet he examined from the Davis shooting, which occurred Nov. 6, 2011, probably came from a .32-caliber revolver.
The bullet recovered from Pauley, who was shot Oct. 23, 2011, was identified by Gardner as an “intermediate caliber bullet” — either a .32-caliber slug or a .38-caliber slug.
He said that he examined seven bullets in connection with the case. Four were .22-caliber bullets from an Iver Johnson pistol — the gun connected to the slaying of Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon. Two bullets were from the shootings of Davis and Pauley.
The other, a .38-caliber bullet, was recovered from the body of Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron.
Gardner concluded that three different handguns could have been used: the Iver Johnson pistol, a .32-caliber and a .38-caliber.
Later Friday, in testimony by Cleveland FBI agent Jack Vickery, the jury heard another purported link between Beasley and the slayings of Geiger and Kern: At the Gridley Street home where Beasley had been staying before his arrest, Vickery recovered a black wallet beneath a pile of leaves near a downspout. He said it contained Geiger’s driver’s license and Social Security card.
An Akron woman, Joyce Grebelsky, who was a close friend of Beasley’s from their church days at The Chapel, had notified the FBI that she received a letter Beasley wrote from the Summit County Jail.
It instructed Grebelsky, with a hand-drawn diagram, exactly where she could find the wallet, along with two laptop computers in the Gridley Street backyard.
Beasley told Grebelsky to find the wallet and laptops and to destroy them, “and do not tell anyone about this.” He emphasized the words with an asterisk.
Grebelsky, who has a felony drug conviction on her record, also took the stand. Before Beasley’s arrest, she said, he suddenly told her one day to start calling him Ralph Geiger.
Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel then asked her why she was told that, and Grebelsky said Beasley informed her: “I want to be a different person.”
“He said he didn’t want to go back to jail,” she quickly added.
Beasley, a fugitive with parole violations at the time of the slayings, had been imprisoned in Texas.
The link to Kern came from security camera video and still photos the FBI obtained from a Waffle House in Akron. It was shown to the jury with the date Nov. 9, 2011 — the same day Kern was interviewed by his new employer from the Craigslist ad.
A heavyset man in a black leather coat and a red American flag ball cap clearly could be seen walking into the restaurant and sitting down in a booth. It was a detailed match of a previous description the FBI had obtained from Kern’s 19-year-old son, Tim Kern, and other men Beasley interviewed for the bogus farm job.
Later in that same video, a second man walked into the Waffle House and sat down at the same booth. The man was wearing light khaki slacks, a red jacket and an Indians ball cap.
It matched the description of Kern that the FBI obtained from his family on the last night they saw him, Nov. 12, 2011, only hours before he was shot to death behind Rolling Acres Mall.
Beasley is charged with aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of the three men and the attempted murder of Davis. The prosecution will resume presenting its case Monday.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or email@example.com.