Wagner family patriarch returns to court in Pike County Massacre case
WAVERLY, Ohio (WXIX) - George “Billy” Wagner III returned to court Tuesday for the first time since November.
Judge Randy Deering ruled that a final hearing on the evidence and testimony will be held by the end of August.
A trial date will be set no later than Oct. 31, the judge ruled Tuesday.
During his last court appearance, Judge Randy Deering said he was holding off on making a ruling for defense motions until Billy’s final pretrial hearing in February.
Billy’s defense team is questioning ballistic and shoeprint evidence that the prosecution says were found at the crime scenes.
The judge did say in November that the attorneys on both sides would conduct a meeting away from the courthouse in December.
That meeting never happened.
The judge has already denied Billy’s defense team’s request to dismiss the death penalty before he goes on trial.
The prosecution has said his youngest son, Edward “Jake” Wagner, must testify against Billy first and that his plea agreement says the state gets to decide if he held up his end of the plea deal.
Billy, 50, his son, and his wife were all indicted three years ago on multiple charges, including eight aggravated murder charges related to the execution-style slayings of eight members of the Rhoden family in 2016.
The killings are the state’s biggest and most complex homicide investigation to date.
Jake Wagner and his mother, Angela Wagner, who is married to Billy, recently pleaded guilty to their roles.
Jake, 28, pleaded guilty in April to eight counts of aggravated murder.
He admitted to killing five members of the Rhoden family, shooting a sixth, and spying on the family before the killings, tampering with evidence, and obstructing the years-long search for the killers.
Billy and his eldest son, George Wagner IV, have pleaded not guilty.
In December, Judge Deering denied the motion for the eight aggravated murder charges to be dismissed in the Pike County massacre case for George.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please include the title when you click here to report it.
Copyright 2022 WXIX. All rights reserved.