AKRON, Ohio (Reuters) - Seventeen-year-old Brogan Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Friday for his role in the killing of three men and the attempted murder of another, some of whom were lured by a Craigslist ad promising work on an Ohio farm.
Rafferty was 16 when he was arrested in November 2011, but was tried as an adult. He was convicted late last month in the murders of David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Virginia; Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron, Ohio; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, Ohio.
Prosecutors called the teen an apt pupil to the alleged trigger-man, Richard Beasley, 53, who is also charged in the murders.
Rafferty testified that he was terrified of the man he had considered a father figure and spiritual advisor after he saw Beasley shoot Geiger in the head execution-style.
During the trial, jurors heard testimony that the teen helped dig the graves for three of the men and was found in possession of guns and knives stolen from them after Beasley shot them.
Beasley’s trial is scheduled in the same courtroom for January 7. He faces the death penalty if convicted. Both Rafferty and Beasley’s attorneys are under a gag order and are not permitted to talk to the media.
In other incidents involving Craigslist and other social media, people advertising goods for sale or responding to ads have been attacked and killed.
In 2009, a former medical student was accused of killing a masseuse he met through Craigslist. In February, two men in Tennessee were accused of killing a man and a woman for “unfriending” the daughter of one of the suspects on Facebook.
Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and David Brunnstrom