AKRON -- The triple murder trial of the man behind a plot to lure victims with phony Craigslist job offers is now underway.
Summit County Judge Lynne Callahan began the trial Monday afternoon after completing jury selection earlier in the day.
Richard Beasley, 53, is the alleged mastermind behind the plot. Three men were killed and a fourth man was wounded. He escaped and alerted authorities in 2011.
"He told met that he was going down south to a farm hat he was going to work on," said Summer Rowley, a friend of Ralph Geiger, the first victim. "That was the last time I talked to him."
Geiger was the first man to take a job he found on Craigslist. A job that ended in his death.
"He wanted a new identity and he got it. He had to kill to get it," said Emily Pelphrey, a special prosecutor on the case.
Prosecutors argue Richard Beasley placed that ad, attracting Geiger and three others to a new job on a farm in Caldwell, Ohio.
"Each one of them wanted something new. And they believed that this person, whatever he was called: Dutch, Jack, that he was the answer that they were looking for," said Pelphrey.
One man got away. Scott Davis will be one of the state's key witnesses.
"The government wants you to believe because Scott Davis says so that he was attacked by Richard Beasley. We think the evidence will show the opposite and we'll give you the reasons why,"said Jim Burdon, defense attorney for Beasley.
Burdon says Richard Beasley was an convenient target for the government.
"This defendant, was selected by the government because when he was in Mr. Biaz's home, he used his computer for the purposes of placing these Craigslist ads," said Burdon.
But defense attorneys argue that was for a friend who lived in Noble County. And while, they admit Beasley is no "saint," they say his poor health, and other factors put him in this courtroom.
"There's no witness that this defendant committed any of those murders. Period," said Burdon.
Beasley could face the death penalty if convicted. His teenage co-defendant Brogan Rafferty, too young to face the death penalty, already was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole.
The trial is expected to last up to six weeks.
The Associated Press