COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The evidence against an Ohio man accused of killing three down-and-out men lured by fake Craigslist job offers wasn't strong enough to convict him, according to attorneys fighting the defendant's death sentence.
No physical evidence links death row inmate Richard Beasley to the killings, his attorneys argued in a court filing with the Ohio Supreme Court.
It also doesn't make sense that someone would go to great lengths to target the poor individuals whom Beasley was charged with killing, the attorneys said.
The "result of these labors would be to rob homeless, destitute individuals with little or no property or money," according to Beasley's public defenders.
Prosecutors say Beasley's motives were so callous and depraved they befuddle the average citizen.
"There is no question that common sense among reasonable persons may have a hard time grasping the sheer depravity of such conduct, but the degree of such depravity certainly does not call into question the veracity of the evidence," the state argued in its own filing.
The state Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday for and against Beasley's death sentence. A ruling isn't expected for months.
Beasley, 58, a self-styled street preacher, was convicted of partnering with a teenage boy in 2011 to lure victims with promises of jobs on a southeastern Ohio farm. The job offers were posted on Craigslist.
A jury convicted Beasley in 2013 and a judge sentenced him to death. Co-defendant Brogan Rafferty, who was 16 at the time of the killings and not eligible for the death penalty, was convicted and sentenced to life without parole.
Beasley also says extensive pretrial publicity prevented him from getting a fair trial in Summit County.
State prosecutors say the publicity barely made an impact on the jury pool.
One victim was killed near Akron, and the others were shot at the farm in Noble County about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southeast of Columbus.
The slain men were Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Virginia; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon.
All were down-and-out men looking for a fresh start in life, prosecutors repeatedly said during Beasley's trial.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.