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Teen Craigslist suspect to have charges merged

CLEVELAND — A 17-year-old charged in a deadly Craigslist robbery scheme has agreed to waive a hearing and have charges against him merged in adult felony court, his attorney said Monday.

Brogan Rafferty will waive his right to a hearing on being tried as an adult when he appears before a judge Wednesday in Akron, said his attorney, John Alexander.

Alexander said that would clear the way for juvenile court charges in the deaths of two men to be merged with adult charges originally from Noble County in the death of a third man and an attack on a fourth victim. Rafferty has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Rafferty is suspected of helping 52-year-old Richard Beasley, of Akron, lure victims with bogus Craigslist job offers.

Beasley, who has been described as a mentor to Rafferty, has pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty if convicted. As a juvenile, Rafferty cannot.

Alexander said he decided to waive the hearing in order, for now, to keep out of the media certain information which he declined to specify. Alexander said there were no other advantages to the strategy.

Rafferty faces a life prison sentence without chance of parole if convicted of aggravated murder in adult court. He has been cooperating with the prosecution and could strike a deal in return for leniency.

April Wiesner, spokeswoman for the Summit County prosecutor, said a gag order barred her from commenting on the defense decision or any other issue.

The charges stem from the deaths of Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron; David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va.; and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon.

Authorities say the men answered Craigslist ads for work on a nonexistent cattle farm in rural Noble County in southeast Ohio.

The scheme targeted older, single, out-of-work men with backgrounds that made it unlikely their disappearances would be noticed right away, according to authorities.

Associated Press Legal Affairs Writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins also contributed to this report