To see more about the crimes Richard Beasley and Brogan Rafferty committed, click here to buy the Beacon Journal eBook The Craigslist Killings.
The lone survivor of the 2011 Craigslist shootings distinctly remembered hearing a click, then “a curse word.”
Scott William Davis, who grew up in Massillon, told a Summit County jury how he managed to escape on “a sunshiny morning,” Nov. 6, 2011, after being shot once in the right elbow by a man he knew then as “Jack.”
Davis identified that man from the witness stand Tuesday morning, stepping down from his seat because his view at the defense table was obstructed.
“That’s him right there,” Davis said once he could see.
He was pointing at the defendant, Richard James Beasley, 53.
Beasley is facing the death penalty for aggravated murder in the slayings of three men and his role in allegedly attempting to kill Davis.
All four men answered Craigslist ads for a nonexistent farm job in Noble County in southern Ohio between August and November 2011.
Just as he did in last year’s trial of Beasley’s co-defendant, 17-year-old Brogan Rafferty of Stow, Davis described in chilling detail how he managed to flee after he was shot, running for his life until finding safety by hiding behind a tree.
Davis testified on the second day of prosecution evidence. He declined to be photographed by the media.
Several members of the jury intently took notes as Davis told his story.
Davis testified that when he saw the Craigslist ad, he decided to leave his landscaping business in South Carolina for the chance to be closer to his mother and sister here. The bogus job, supposedly as a caretaker of a large farm property, offered a furnished trailer for housing and $300 per week in pay.
So Davis, 49, packed his belongings in a box trailer behind his pickup truck and quickly left for Ohio.
After meeting Beasley and Rafferty for breakfast at a Noble County restaurant — Beasley introduced the teen as his nephew — Davis said they took a 15-minute ride through the countryside. Rafferty then dropped off Davis and Beasley along a country road.
Davis testified Beasley wanted help finding some farm equipment.
As they were making their way through the woods, Davis said, he heard a click from behind, apparently from a gun misfiring, and heard the curse word.
Davis said he spun around and was shot in the right elbow. He told the jury what happened next:
“I saw a gun. It looked like it was coming back toward my head for a second try,” Davis said.
It was then he frantically began running, falling often on the wet terrain as Beasley continued firing. Davis said he heard three more shots, all of which missed, as he got away.
“I ran until I couldn’t run anymore — out of breath,” Davis told the jury. He said he hid behind a tree and stayed there in dense woods for about seven hours — noting the time on his cellphone.
Davis said he knew he was in deep trouble as the hours passed.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it. I was bleeding pretty bad,” he told the jury.
Knowing he had to act, he left his hiding place, found a farmhouse nearby and implored the man who answered the door to call 911.
That was how authorities were alerted about the Davis shooting, eventually leading to the arrests and murder indictments of Beasley and Rafferty several weeks later.
In an hour and a half on the witness stand Tuesday morning, Davis made one additional identification of Beasley from the time they spent in the restaurant on the morning he was shot.
Davis said he noticed “Jack” had a tattoo on his left arm.
Emily Pelphrey, special prosecutor for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, asked the judge to direct Beasley to show his left arm to the jury.
Sitting in a wheelchair, dressed in a dark business suit, Beasley unbuttoned his cuff, rolled up his coat sleeve and extended his left arm outward, exposing the underside.
“Is that the tattoo?” Pelphrey asked Davis.
“Yes it is,” he immediately answered.
Jurors later heard the 911 call and testimony by a man who was at the house where Davis sought help. He testified that Davis was pale and frightened and believed someone was trying to rob him.
Another witness, Noble County Sheriff Stephen Hannum, testified he initially didn’t believe Davis’ story about the job offer and the shooting, partly because he couldn’t think of a swath of land nearby that matched the farm in the job ad.
He said the sheriff’s office located Davis’ truck and trailer full of belongings he had brought to Ohio and began to believe he was a victim as the case unfolded.
Rafferty, who was 16 at the time of the crimes, was convicted of three counts of aggravated murder and sentenced last year to life in prison with no chance of parole.
He is expected to testify against Beasley.
Prosecution testimony will continue today. Summit County Common Pleas Judge Lynne Callahan is hearing the case.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.