Jury selection began yesterday for the trial of Richard Beasley, the man charged in 2011 with luring men to his Noble County farm with a bogus work ad on Craigslist, only to slaughter them execution-style .
Since the throng of prospective jurors exceeded the capacity of the Summit County Courthouse, where the trial will be held, jury selection was relocated to the disturbingly lavish Akron Civic Theatre. The theater’s gilded historic proscenium provides an appropriately operatic backdrop for the jurors who will determine the fate of the 300-pound ex-con street preacher who murdered three men in cold blood with the assistance of teenage accomplice Brogan Rafferty, who, despite his endearingly rakish Dickensian name, was tried as an adult and is now serving a life sentence for his complicity in the plot.
Summit County judge Lynne S. Callahan addressed the pool of jury contenders yesterday morning, citing “whether you have formed an opinion about the case and whether you can set it aside” as a significant arbiter of juror candidacy for the capital case. Other topics to be treated in the voire dire are "the length of the trial, pretrial publicity and personal views on the death penalty." Jurors will be sequestered in a hotel for the duration of the trial, which Callahan told them could be as long as six weeks.
According to the Summit County Court of Common Pleas' wildly popular website, halter tops may also disqualify you: the site admonishes potential jurors to "use good judgment when deciding what to wear to court. Inappropriate attire includes clothes too casual for a business situation, such as shorts or halter tops." Which is a little fusty; Cuyahoga County's Jury Duty FAQ page encourages those summoned to dress "comfortably and casually"; after all, "you may be sitting in place for a considerable length of time." Also, payment of jury fees in Summit County has "been suspended due to limited funding in the County's operating budget." Tough crowd, this Summit County justice system! Do you dress like the Monopoly Man, have a lot of time on your hands, endorse the death penalty, and habitually take leisure dips in your money vault? Summit County jury duty may be for you!
The theater’s other upcoming attractions are something horrifyingly called “Brit Floyd: Pink Floyd’s Ultimate Light and Sound Experience” and 80s vanilla soul-pop duo Hall & Oates, who coincidentally wrote the iconic lyrics “I can’t go for that (no can do)” about wearing halter tops to jury duty.