Opening statements start in homicide trial in slaying of 8 members of Ohio household

An Ohio man helped his household plan, execute and canopy up the murders of eight members of one other household over a bitter custody battle, prosecutors mentioned Monday within the first trial linked to the 2016 killings.

George Wagner IV, 30, is accused of helping his household in a homicide plot in opposition to the Rhoden household. Seven adults and a teenage boy have been shot to loss of life in Pike County. Wagner is charged with a number of counts of aggravated homicide and different costs associated to conspiracy and makes an attempt to cowl up proof.

Prosecutors say the custody dispute concerned Wagner’s brother, Edward “Jake” Wagner, and one of many victims, Hanna Rhoden, 19, over their toddler daughter.

The victims have been Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife, Dana Rhoden, 37; their three youngsters: Hanna, 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden and 16-year-old Christopher Jr.; Clarence Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and a cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38.

Clockwise from prime left: Dana Manley Rhoden and Christopher Rhoden Sr.; Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden and Hannah “Hazel” Gilley; Hanna Could Rhoden; Gary Rhoden; Kenneth Rhoden; and Christopher Rhoden Jr. Ohio Lawyer Basic through Getty Pictures

The daughter on the middle of the custody dispute was with the Wagners on the time of the killings and never on the scene. Two infants and a toddler have been discovered unhurt subsequent to their lifeless moms.

George Wagner IV participated “in one of the heinous crimes that has ever been dedicated within the state of Ohio,” Angela Canepa, a particular prosecutor within the case, mentioned throughout opening arguments on Monday. 

“He participated in planning, getting ready, buying, executing and protecting up these crimes,” she mentioned.

He has pleaded not responsible and will face the loss of life penalty if convicted. 

Each Wagner brothers in addition to their mother and father, Angela Wagner and George “Billy” Wagner III, have been additionally charged with the murders. George “Billy” Wagner III has additionally pleaded not responsible.

Final 12 months, Jake and Angela Wagner pleaded responsible to their roles within the killings. Jake Wagner confessed to killing 5 of the eight victims, in a plea settlement that will spare him a loss of life sentence. Prosecutors mentioned Jake Wagner agreed to testify in trials for his different members of the family in alternate that additionally they not search the loss of life penalty in these circumstances. Angela Wagner pleaded responsible in alternate for a 30-year-sentence.

Edward "Jake" Wagner is escorted by police into the courtroom for arraignment at the Pike County Courthouse on Nov. 27, 2018 in Waverly, Ohio.
Edward “Jake” Wagner is escorted by police into the courtroom for arraignment on the Pike County Courthouse on Nov. 27, 2018 in Waverly, Ohio.Brooke LaValley / The Columbus Dispatch through AP

Canepa mentioned throughout opening statements Monday that Jake Wagner mentioned he was in love with Hanna Rhoden and “very upset after they parted methods” and Rhoden started courting folks and exposing their daughter to folks he and his household “didn’t approve of.”

She mentioned Jake Wagner went into element how his brother and oldsters collectively took half in a monthslong scheme in preparation to kill the members of the Rhoden household.

Canepa described the Wagner household as very “insular” and mentioned they did the whole lot collectively, together with voting to kill the Rhodens and shopping for and getting ready the whole lot essential to enact their lethal plan.

The protection has sought to distance George Wagner IV from his household and the plan to kill the Rhodens.

Protection legal professional Richard Nash Jr. mentioned throughout opening statements that Jake Wagner’s confession says his brother “shot nobody” and doesn’t say George Wagner IV was significantly concerned in planning the murders.

“George can’t assist that he’s a Wagner, that doesn’t make him a assassin,” Nash mentioned.

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