Jurors in Pike County murder trial have heard from 54 witnesses so far

PIKE COUNTY — Admitting thousands of exhibits presented during its case in the past 9 weeks, the prosecution is resting its case in the murder trial of George Wagner IV.

Wagner is one of four members of his family accused of shooting and killing eight members of the Rhoden family in Pike County in 2016. His trial for charges of murder officially began Sept. 12 in the Waverly, Ohio courtroom and continues Tuesday.

Before that date, however, there was jury selection, and jurors were taken to the scenes of the killings.

Last week, a Rule 29 hearing was conducted before court adjourned for a long weekend. Jurors were not in court Friday because it was Veterans Day nor Monday as attorneys and the judge met to discuss evidence presented.

They have heard from 54 witnesses so far.

Defense attorneys are able to object to evidentiary items one final time. What is officially admitted will be available to the jury during their deliberation.

During the hearing, defense attorneys can also request the evidence prosecution entered be examined to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. If the evidence is found to be insufficient, defense attorneys can request their client be acquitted of the charges.

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.

Angela and Jake Wagner took plea deals and both testified in George Wagner’s trial. Billy Wagner faces trial down the road.

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.

The trial is the first time a person has faced a jury for the deaths of the Rhoden family six years ago.

About the Author