Wagner patriarch makes quick court appearance

Wagner patriarch makes quick court appearance
Billy Wagner appeared in court for his arraignment on Dec. 4. (Source: Schupp, Kim)

PIKE COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - The fifth member of a family all connected to the Pike County massacre appeared in court for what you could call a quicker-than-brief hearing.

This was family patriarch George “Billy” Wagner III’s fourth court appearance since he was arrested and charged for the brutal, execution-style slayings of eight members of the Rhoden family in April 2016.

Wagner’s court appearance Friday lasted less than 10 minutes. Motions were mainly and briefly discussed before a judge scheduled the next court appearance for May 29.

Wagner patriarch returns to court

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.

READ MORE | Pike County Massacre

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

Police arrested Wagner in Lexington, Kentucky Nov. 21, which was the beginning of a string of arrests that saw his immediate family members locked up on murder charges.

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.

His mother Fredericka Wagner and his mother-in-law Rita Newcomb are charged with obstruction of justice and perjury.

In his last court appearance Jan. 17, he was allowed to have contact with his sister Robyn, whom his attorneys say he is ‘very’ close with.

During that hearing, 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.

RELATED | No charges dismissed, trials now set for Pike County grandmothers charged in massacre cover-up

Trial dates were set Thursday for Fredericka Wagner and Rita Newcomb.

Newcomb will have her final pre-trial hearing June 14 and her trial will be July 8 through July 10.

Fredericka Wagner’s trial will begin July 29.

Jake Wagner is the last member of the family scheduled for this batch of pre-trial hearings. His court appearance will be April 4.

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