A prosecutor referred to convicted Craiglist killer Richard Beasley as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” in the opening statement in his Summit County trial — an inappropriate biblical reference.

A juror was permitted to remain on the triple-murder trial even though he admitted to knowing an FBI agent testifying in the case.

Beasley’s prior criminal record was mentioned during the trial, potentially prejudicing the jury.

These are a few of the errors that Beasley’s attorney pointed out Tuesday morning to the Ohio Supreme Court that — when added up — he claims meant Beasley didn’t get a fair trial in Summit County.

“There is cumulative error about all these little issues that happened during the trial,” Akron attorney Donald Gallick told the state’s highest court.

Stephen Maher of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, who represented the prosecution, however, argued that Beasley’s trial was fair and the trial judge sided with the defense on several of the issues Gallick raised. He said an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence convinced a jury that Beasley was guilty and should be sentenced to death for being the mastermind in a scheme to entice men to a remote spot in southern Ohio — and kill them.

“There is a voluminous record,” Maher said. “The fact that it is circumstantial evidence is not a bad thing.”

Beasley, 58, of Akron, and his teenage accomplice Brogan Rafferty of Stow were convicted in 2013 of murdering three men and trying to kill another. The murders made national news because Beasley posted ads on Craigslist to lure the men with the promise of a job.

Beasley was sentenced to death, while Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Beasley and Rafferty were captured after a gun malfunctioned and one of the men escaped and hid in the woods after being shot in the elbow.

Three men slain

Prosecutors said Beasley targeted down-on-their-luck men with few family ties who were hoping to land dream jobs. The slain men were Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon.

The Ohio Supreme Court must consider appeals on death penalty cases.

Beasley’s appeal focused on several issues involving his Summit County Common Pleas Court trial and conviction, including pretrial publicity and testimony permitted that he claims was inadmissible.

Gallick, who didn’t represent Beasley during his trial, argued Tuesday that the defense attorneys should have asked Judge Lynne Callahan to recuse herself from hearing Beasley’s case because she had already sat on Rafferty’s case and this could have tainted her views of Beasley. Beasley’s trial lawyers were Jim Burdon and Larry Whitney.

Not unusual

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, however, pointed out that judges often are assigned to cases involving co-defendants.

Gallick said this was a death penalty case and perhaps should have been handled differently than other cases with more than one defendant.

Justice Terrence O’Donnell pressed Gallick on whether — without the trial errors he is raising — the outcome would likely have been the same in Beasley’s trial.

Gallick said Beasley likely still would have been convicted of some of the lesser crimes he was charged with and admitted to during trial, like identity theft, but possibly not on the aggravated murder charges. He said the main evidence against Beasley was what Rafferty said happened and computer searches and internet posts.

“He might not have been convicted of aggravated murder and gotten the death sentence had the errors not occurred,” Gallick said.

Outcome assured?

Maher, though, disagreed with Gallick’s assertion that the outcome of the trial might have been different.

“It’s not even remotely close,” he said.

Gallick said the circumstantial evidence against Beasley might be better than direct evidence like eyewitness testimony that often can be unreliable.

“There really is no cumulative error to address,” he said.

O’Connor, a Summit County native, said the court will consider the attorney’s arguments and make a ruling.

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmithabj and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith.