Family patriarch Billy Wagner appears in court for Pike County massacre charges

Evidence received in Pike Co. murder case

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Wagner family patriarch George “Billy” Wagner III appeared in court for the third time since he was arrested for the brutal slaying of members of the Rhoden family in April 2016.

Police arrested Wagner in Lexington, Kentucky Nov. 21.

He, his wife Angela, 48, his sons George Wagner IV, 27, and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, are all charged with aggravated murder and face the possibility of the death penalty.

Wagner appeared in Fayette County, Kentucky court Nov. 14 for a brief extradition hearing where he agreed to go back to Ohio.

He appeared in court for the second time in Pike County Common Pleas Court to plead not guilty Dec. 4.

READ MORE: Wagner family patriarch pleads not guilty in Pike County massacre

Thursday afternoon was the first pretrial hearing for the Wagner family patriarch.

The prosecution turned over 30 gigabytes of discovery evidence for the defense attorneys to review.

Wagner’s attorney said it’s only about 10 percent of the total evidence in the case.

“We are happy to have this and we look forward to starting the process of going through it. Having our investigators go through it and sharing the information with our client in person," Mark Collins said.

WATCH LIVE: Wagner family patriach Billy is in court for his first pretrial hearing. All 4 members of the Wagner family are facing murder charges and potentially the death penalty for their role in the brutal, execution-style murders of members of the Rhoden family >>

Posted by FOX19 on Thursday, January 17, 2019

He is the fifth member of his family to face a judge in a pretrial hearing for the massacre. Angela, George III, Angela’s mother Rita Newcomb, and his mother Fredericka Wagner have already had their first pretrial hearings.

Wagner was ordered to have no contact directly or indirectly with any co-defendants.

He is allowed to have contact with his sister, Robyn, but may not have any discussions about the case.

“My client is very close to his sister Robyn and we appreciate the allowance of Robyn to be able to talk to my client about things in general," Collins said.

Wagner’s attorney’s will allow several weeks to review what evidence the prosecutors turned over.

His next hearing is scheduled for March 29.

Fredericka Wagner and Rita Newcomb are charged with obstruction of justice and perjury.

READ MORE: Purchase of bulletproof vests at center of charges against Wagner matriarch

During Fredericka’s pretrial hearing Jan. 10, it was revealed her obstruction and perjury charges come from her testimony in front of a grand jury about the discovery of bullet-proof vests in her home.

Prosecutors say the vests were found inside her son’s room.

Pike County Common Pleas Court Judge Randy Deering imposed a gag order in the cases of Wagner, his wife and sons.

READ MORE: Eldest Wagner son makes second court appearance in Pike Co. slayings

Anyone involved, including law enforcement and attorneys, is barred from talking to the media.

Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk has said he wants to keep the trials in the county.

All four members of the Wagner family must be separately arraigned and likely will be separately tried because of the death penalty possibility.

READ MORE: Mother charged in Rhoden family murders to have no contact with family members

Their multi-count indictments also accuse them of conspiracy, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with evidence, unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance, forgery, unauthorized use of property, interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications, obstructing justice, and aggravated burglary.

The bodies of the Rhodens were found in four separate trailers at two locations near Piketon the morning of April 22, 2016.

The victims are Christopher Rhoden, 40; his older brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; his cousin, Gary Rhoden; his former wife, Dana Lynn Rhoden, 37, and their children: Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna Mae Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Frankie’s fiancé, Hannah Gilley.

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