Pike County murder trial: Patriarch of the Wagner family won’t see trial until 2025

WAVERLY, Ohio — The murder trial for the patriarch of the Wagner family won’t happen until 2025, Judge Robert Alan Corbin decided on Thursday.

George “Billy” Wagner III would have been on trial beginning May 6, if his defense attorneys hadn’t requested a continuance. The defense explained multiple members of their team were unable to prepare because of varying medical reasons, in addition to conflicts with other cases they’re working on.

“We just can’t be ready for that May 6 date,” said one of Billy’s attorneys.

Billy Wagner, like his wife, Angela, and two sons, Jake and George, is accused of taking part in what’s been called one of the biggest murder cases in Ohio’s history.

He’s accused of shooting and killing eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families “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.

Found dead that day were 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr., 37-year-old Dana Rhoden, 20-year-old Hannah “Hazel” Gilley, 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr., 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 37-year-old Gary Rhoden, 19-year-old Hanna May Rhoden, and 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden.

Now, because of conflicting schedules between the judge, prosecution and defense, Billy won’t see trial until Jan. 6, 2025 — nearly 9 years after the murders.

“I do know that the Rhoden family probably isn’t too enthused about this and I understand that and I apologize,” said Corbin.

But he ultimately determined the defense’s request for a continuance of the trial date was a reasonable one, given the circumstances presented.

Billy has been imprisoned since his family’s arrest for the murders in November of 2018.

Currently, Billy still faces the death penalty. His wife, Angela and son, Jake have both entered plea bargains with the prosecution that would lift those specifications in exchange for their testimony in trial; the same deal was struck for George’s trial.

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