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Ohio judge postpones life or death decision on Craigslist killer

Mike Cardew / Akron Beacon Journal Pool via AP

Richard Beasley smiles at his sister Sherri Beasley as he is wheeled into Summit County Common Pleas Judge Lynne S. Callahan's courtroom in Akron, Ohio, on Feb 27, 2013.

Faced with a jury’s recommendation to hand down the death penalty, an Ohio judge will now decide on Thursday, April 4 the fate of the triple killer who lured his victims with Craigslist job offers.

A sentence was expected Tuesday afternoon for 53-year-old Richard Beasley, but Judge Lynn Callahan in Akron said unavoidable complications forced officials to move the sentencing to a later date. 

Beasley, a self-styled street preacher, was convicted last week, found guilty on 26 counts, including nine counts of aggravated murder.

While the jury for the case voted and urged Beasley’s execution, Callahan has the option of reducing the sentence to life in prison. That option could include a chance for parole after 25 or 30 years.

Beasley killed three men and shot another who responded to bogus ads on Craigslist that promised a job as a caretaker on a large farm in Noble County, Ohio. One was killed near Akron and two others were killed at the southeast Ohio farm.

The slain men were Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon. Geiger and Pauley were both buried in shallow graves in a wooded area in Caldwell, Ohio.

The survivor, Scott Davis, 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 the arm, said he knocked the weapon aside, fled in to the woods and tipped police.

Beasley's teenage co-defendant Brogan Rafferty, who was 16 at the time of the crimes in 2011, was sentenced by the same judge last year to life without parole. Because of his age, he wasn't eligible for the death penalty.

In an opening statement during the sentencing phase of the trial last week, prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel said the "enormous" weight of Beasley's crimes should be considered in deciding on life or death.

Beasley didn't take the stand at the trial's sentencing phase to appeal for mercy. His attorneys instead called a friend of Beasley, a psychologist and his mother, who begged jurors to spare her son's life.  

Beasley had previously served several years in prison on a burglary conviction. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.