AKRON, Ohio (AP) — With a possible deal for leniency in the works, sentencing was delayed Monday for an Ohio teenager convicted in a deadly plot to lure men desperate for work with phony Craigslist job offers.
Judge Lynne Callahan said sentencing for 17-year-old Brogan Rafferty would be held Friday but she did not explain the reason for the change. The announcement during a brief court session came after a 90-minute delay as prosecutors and defense attorneys met privately in the judge's chambers.
All parties in the case are under a gag order.
Rafferty's mother, Yvette Rafferty, said the delay was "probably" related to a possible deal for leniency in return for her son's testimony against the alleged triggerman, Richard Beasley, 53. She declined to comment further, citing the gag order.
Her son was convicted last week of killing three men and trying to kill a fourth, who was shot but survived.
Rafferty, dressed in a red and white striped jail outfit, kept his lips pursed and looked straight ahead during the court session as his family and relatives of the victims watched. His hands and ankles were cuffed.
He could face up to life in prison without chance of parole but his cooperation against Beasley could give him a chance for freedom at some point — a sentence of perhaps 20 or 30 years.
The jury rejected the defense claim that Rafferty feared for his life if he didn't cooperate with Beasley.
Beasley, described as the teen's spiritual mentor, has pleaded not guilty and faces a Jan. 7 trial.
Prosecutors say the victims, all down in their luck and with few family ties that might highlight their disappearance, were lured with phony offers of farmhand jobs on Craigslist last year.
One man was killed near Akron and the others were shot at a southeast Ohio farm during bogus job interviews.
Prosecutors say robbery was the motive.
Rafferty, a high school student from Stow near Akron, was tried as an adult but didn't face a possible death penalty because he is a juvenile.
Beasley, an ex-convict and self-styled street minister from Akron, could face the death penalty if convicted.
The surviving victim, 49-year-old Scott Davis of South Carolina, testified as the prosecution's star witness. He identified Rafferty as Beasley's accomplice and told the jury a harrowing story.
Davis said he was walking across what turned out to be a bogus job site when he heard a gun cock and turned and found himself face to face with a handgun. He said he pushed the weapon aside, was shot in the arm and fled through the woods.