Court reviews state’s evidence Pike County massacre trial
WAVERLY, Ohio (WXIX) - No jurors were in court Monday as the attorneys debate what evidence they can consider in the trial of George Wagner IV.
Prosecutors will officially enter into the court record all the evidence they gathered from investigators and presented to the jury over the past nine weeks.
The defense can object. Anything not admitted will not be considered by the jury, who has the day off during this process.
“It’s the court’s understanding, counsel for the state and counsel for the defense are going to be going through all items that the state hopes to be admitted in the case,” Judge Randy Deering said.
The number of exhibits in the Pike County Massacre trial is enormous. More than 1,000 photos and other evidence have already been presented to the jury.
John Parker, who is one of the attorneys for George IV, said, ”I don’t think we’ll be objecting to the authenticity of any of these photographs that’s been. I think the big issue is whether they’re duplicative, you know if there are six photographs of truck, do we really need six photographs of the truck?”
FOX19 NOW legal analyst Mike Allen explained, “if there is something the jury saw that the judge ultimately does not admit, he would give an instruction saying you are to disregard it.”
George Wagner IV, 31; his younger brother, Jake Wagner, 28 and their parents: Billy Wagner, 51, and Angela Wagner, 52, were all indicted in November 2018.
They are accused of killing eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families in four separate trailers on April 21-22, 2016 in Piketon: Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his older brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; his cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38; his former wife, Dana Lynn Rhoden, 37, and their children: Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna May Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Frankie’s fiancé, Hannah Gilley, 20.
The motive in the slayings was the custody and control of the 2-year-old daughter of Jake Wagner and one of the victims, Hanna May Rhoden, 19, prosecutors say.
George Wagner IV is the first member of his family of four to go on trial.
Angela Wagner and Jake Wagner both testified recently against him as part of their plea deals with the state. They admitted their roles in the slayings last year.
George Wagner and his father have pleaded not guilty and continue to fight the charges.
Billy Wagner’s trial is expected to be held in Pike County next year.
Jake Wagner and Angela Wagner both told the jury the entire family participated in the massacre.
Jake Wagner calmly recounted in graphic detail how he killed five of the eight victims, including the mother of his child, and shot and wounded a sixth.
He implicated his father in killing three of the victims and confirmed on the stand his brother George killed no one, shot no one and, in fact, never once fired his gun.
George Wagner’s attorneys unsuccessfully tried to have the murder charges thrown out against their client earlier this year before the trial started.
His brother and mother’s confessions prove he didn’t kill or even shoot anyone, they argued in court records and in person before the judge, but Deering refused to dismiss the charges.
The judge sided with the state, who contends George Wagner should be convicted of the murder charges because he actively participated in the planning, preparation and cover-up of the massacre.
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