Defense in Pike County murder trial denied request for mistrial

PIKE COUNTY — The murder trial of George Wagner IV has now lasted for two weeks, and it has mostly focused on testimony regarding the places where eight members of the Rhoden family were killed.

Wagner — along with his mother Angela, father George “Billy” Wagner and brother Edward “Jake” Wagner — is accused of shooting and killing the Rhoden family members “execution-style.” The family’s bodies were found on April 22, 2016. He faces eight charges of aggravated murder, along with other charges associated with tampering with evidence, conspiracy and forgery.

Thursday’s court proceedings were atypical, beginning with George’s defense attorneys filing a motion requesting Judge Randy Deering declare a mistrial and later abruptly adjourning after a juror requested an unplanned break.


In the morning, before the jury was brought in, Attorney John Parker argued that the prosecutors’ continued display of graphic photos depicting the victims and their wounds could prejudice the jury, because the prosecution’s case against George is predominantly about complicity; prosecutors have said George’s brother, Jake — who took a plea deal in 2021 — will testify that George was present for the murders, but never pulled a trigger.

Deering overruled the request and trial continued. Less than an hour after returning from a lunch break, however, Deering announced a juror needed a break and the trial paused for what was intended to be a 10-minute break; after roughly 20 minutes, everyone returned to the court room and Deering announced court would fully adjourn for the day, though he did not provide a reason for the sudden end of the day’s proceedings.

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