An Ohio jury has reached a decision about whether to recommend the death penalty for a self-styled preacher convicted of killing three down-and-out men lured by bogus Craigslist job offers.
A jury recommended that Richard Beasley be sentenced to death.
The jury's options were to recommend execution, life in prison without parole or life in prison with a chance for parole after 25 or 30 years.
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Carol Beasley testified that her son had a troubled childhood and had suffered physical and sexual abuse. "I love Richard with all my heart," she said.
As she testified, Beasley slumped forward, his chin on his chest and his right hand covering his eyes. He uses a wheelchair because of back pain.
She described a difficult childhood for her son, with a verbally and physically abusive stepfather whom Carol Beasley characterized as a mean drunk.
She testified that she learned only within the past year that her son had been sexually abused by neighborhood youngsters when he was a boy. She had known that the boys had forced him to remove his pants in a large drainage pipe but hadn't known about the abuse at the time, she said.
"I always felt there was much more than he told me," she testified. Her son apparently kept the abuse secret out of fear he would be held responsible for it, the mother said.
Her first husband neglected Richard and her, Carol Beasley testified, and her second husband broke dishes and a window while drinking and whipped Richard as a toddler. "Richard was very mistreated by him," she testified.
Carol Beasley testified that Richard and the couple's own two daughters would be put to bed early and sometimes were sent to relatives for the weekend to avoid contact with the father.
"Everybody was afraid when he came home," she said.
The defense also called a psychologist, John Fabian, who testified that Beasley suffers from depression, alcohol abuse, low self-esteem and a feeling of isolation, all possible results of a troubled, abusive childhood.
"These are all potential mitigating factors" in favor of leniency, Fabian testified.
Fabian said Beasley's issues should be considered in multi-generational terms involving him and his family life. "This is all his personality development," he said.
One of Beasley's victims was killed near Akron, and the others were shot at a southeast Ohio farm during bogus job interviews.
The slain men were Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon. All were down-and-out men looking for a fresh start in life, the prosecution said repeatedly during the trial.
The survivor, Scott Davis, now 49, testified that he heard the click of a gun as he walked in front of Beasley at the reputed job site. Davis, who was shot in an arm, knocked the weapon aside, fled into the woods and tipped police.
Beasley, who returned to Ohio from Texas in 2004 after serving several years in prison on a burglary conviction, testified that he met with Davis and Davis had pulled a gun in retaliation for Beasley serving as a police informant in a motorcycle gang investigation.
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3/20/2013 5:33:03 PM (GMT -4:00)