By Kim Palmer
AKRON, Ohio (Reuters) - An Ohio judge on Tuesday postponed the sentencing of Richard Beasley, the former street preacher found guilty earlier this month of murdering down-on-their-luck men who responded to an ad on Craigslist for a non-existent job.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Lynne Callahan set a new sentencing date for Thursday, April 4, at 10 a.m. The delay was necessary because defense attorney James Burdon was ill, Callahan said.
Beasley, 53, was found guilty on March 12 of kidnapping and killing David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Virginia; Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, Ohio.
He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Scott Davis, 49, a South Carolina man who answered a Craigslist ad and was shot in the arm while escaping after meeting Beasley and a teenage accomplice, Brogan Rafferty.
Jurors unanimously recommended the death penalty for Beasley, granting the judge the option of sentencing him to death.
Prosecutors said Beasley was the mastermind and triggerman in a scheme to rob the victims and steal their identities. He and Rafferty, now 18, were convicted in separate trials of promising men a bogus $300-a-week job as a ranch hand in rural Ohio.
Rafferty was 16 when the murders were committed and ineligible for the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole and plans to appeal his conviction.
(Editing by James Kelleher and Bob Burgdorfer)