AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Hoping to land a farm job and move close to his family, Scott Davis met his new boss and walked with him through the autumn-color woodlands of southeast Ohio last year.
Then he heard the click of a gun at the back of his head.
"I spun around," the soft-spoken Davis told a hushed courtroom Friday at the murder trial of Brogan Rafferty, a 17-year-old charged in a plot to lure victims through phony Craigslist job offers. Three men were shot to death. Davis was the only victim to survive and tell his story.
Gently prodded by the prosecutor, Davis testified that he pushed the gunman's arm away and got shot in the arm. Then he began a race for his life through the brush, the sound of gunfire ringing through the trees.
Davis told a harrowing story to jurors, saying he ran through the woods and hid for seven hours. "I was worried about bleeding to death," he testified.
Prosecutors say the plot involving Rafferty and Richard Beasley, a self-styled chaplain and the alleged triggerman, targeted men desperate for work who responded to Craigslist job ads.
Davis, 49, described how he responded to one such ad, sold his South Carolina business and moved last year to be closer to his family in the Canton area.
Davis said he, a man who called himself "Jack" and Rafferty shared a restaurant breakfast before Rafferty drove the trio to an isolated Noble County farm, ostensibly to show Davis where he would be working as a farmhand and live in a trailer with hunting rights.
Prosecutors say "Jack" was Beasley, Rafferty's mentor. Beasley, 53, of Akron, has pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately.
According to Davis, "Jack" urged him into a wooded area to look for farm equipment and eventually suggested that the two turn back.
"I heard a curse word and then a gun cock," Davis testified.
Davis said he turned around and found himself face-to-face with a handgun. He said he pushed the weapon aside, was wounded in the arm and fled as "Jack" fired at him.
Davis said he ran as fast as he could "but I kept falling down." He said he eventually hid in a creek bed and tried to stop the bleeding amid rising pain. Fearing loss of blood would kill him, Davis said he climbed to a hilltop in the moonlit night to look for a house. He found one and managed to get there and ask for a phone to dial 911.
"I was getting weak at that point," Davis testified.