A teenager accused in a deadly robbery scheme that lured victims with a phony Craigslist job ad can be tried as an adult, a judge ruled Thursday.
Both sides agreed that there was enough evidence for the case of 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty to be transferred, and Judge John Nau of Noble County Juvenile Court signed off on it.
The decision means Rafferty, if convicted, could face life in prison without parole instead of just a few years in a juvenile detention center.
The Associated Press generally does not identify juvenile suspects, but Rafferty's name has been widely reported by local and national media outlets.
Rafferty will be charged in adult court, possibly this month, with charges similar to the juvenile counts, Noble County Prosecutor Clifford Sickler said. He said the counts would be "probably limited in the number," without elaborating.
Juvenile charges against Rafferty accused him of killing David Pauley of Norfolk, Va., with the assistance of 52-year-old Richard Beasley, a self-styled chaplain and mentor to the boy. The charges allege Rafferty and Beasley also tried to kill Scott Davis, a South Carolina man who escaped after being shot in the arm by hiding in woods until it got dark.
Beasley is being held in Summit County Jail in Akron on unrelated drug and prostitution charges.
Rafferty's mother declined to comment Thursday, as did Rafferty's lawyer.
Rafferty sat quietly during the brief hearing and showed no reaction when a prosecutor recounted the juvenile charges against him. He is a junior at Stow Munroe City Schools, about 40 miles southeast of Cleveland, and has been held at a juvenile detention center.
Authorities say applicants who fell for the scheme answered a Craigslist ad for a job at a nonexistent cattle ranch in Noble County, 90 miles south of Akron in rural southeastern Ohio, were robbed, then killed.
The teen was questioned by the FBI and arrested in mid-November, several days after Davis said he was shot in the arm after he answered the ad.
The body of Pauley, 51, was found on the Noble County property, owned by a coal company and often leased to hunters. Authorities say Pauley was killed Oct. 23.
Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, was found Nov. 29 in a shallow grave near an Akron-area shopping mall. He had been shot in the head.
Authorities believe the body of Ralph Geiger, 55, of Akron, found Nov. 29 in Noble County, is also linked to the scheme. He died Aug. 9 of a gunshot wound to the head.
Beasley was a Texas parolee who returned to Ohio in 2004 after serving time on a burglary conviction. He was awaiting trial on prostitution and drug charges when authorities took him into custody last month. Police have said a halfway house he ran in Akron was a front for prostitution.
Beasley has not been charged in the Craigslist case, although the chief prosecutor in northeast Ohio's Summit County said he will be charged with murder and attempted murder in attacks on four victims.
Rafferty gave up his right to have evidence presented as to why he should be transferred to adult court, meaning no new details about the alleged plot emerged Thursday.