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Teen convicted in fake Craigslist ad killings in Ohio

Phil Masturzo / AP file

Brogan Rafferty, shown here heading into court on Oct. 25, was convicted on Tuesday of murder and other counts in the so-called Craigslist killings in Ohio.

A jury in Akron, Ohio, on Tuesday found a 17-year-old guilty of aggravated murder and other counts for his role in the slayings of three men who were lured to the state by phony Craigslist job ads.

Brogan Rafferty was convicted on all counts except Count 42, which was ID fraud, WKYC-TV reported.

Authorities say Rafferty, of Stow, helped Richard Beasley, of Akron, lure four victims at separate times with bogus Craigslist job offers to a nonexistent cattle farm in rural Noble County in southeast Ohio; they say the motive was robbery. Authorities say Beasley shot and killed three of the men; the fourth victim was shot in the arm and survived.

Rafferty told the court he went along with the plot because he feared Beasley would kill him too.

"Go with it or die," Rafferty said, when asked if he thought he had any choice in taking part in the murders, according to WKYC.

Beasley, 53, is scheduled for trial in January. He has pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty if convicted. As a juvenile, Rafferty can't be sentenced to death; he faces life in prison without chance of parole.

In closing arguments last week, prosecutors portrayed Rafferty as someone who knew exactly what he was doing and ignored opportunities to go to police.

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"Although Richard Beasley is a murderer and liar, he was brutally honest with one person. One person knew everything that he was doing. Just one. And that was Brogan Rafferty," assistant Summit County prosecutor John Baumoel told jurors. "Brogan Rafferty knew each and every one of his dark secrets."

Baumoel told jurors that the two were partners "in executing people out in the woods."

He pointed jurors to Internet searches Rafferty did after the first slaying for the term "first kill" and "Sopranos' first whack," referring to the TV show about a New Jersey mafia family. And he downplayed arguments the defense had made that Rafferty was the product of a tough childhood, his mother a drug addict on the streets, his father rarely around as he worked long hours to support the family.

"Having a difficult childhood is neither a legal excuse nor a moral excuse for being involved in deaths and murder of multiple people," Baumoel said.

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Rafferty's attorney said the suspect was a 16-year-old child at the time of the killings who was afraid Beasley would harm his mother and sister and didn't know how to escape.

"Did we see Brogan Rafferty, psychopath, or a 16-year-old child who found himself in a horrible situation and couldn't find his way out?" attorney John Alexander asked.

He added, "Does a 16-year-old child have the know-how how to handle these traumatic situations? Does he understand the options ahead of him?"

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.

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