George Wagner IV appears in court for motions hearing
PIKE COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - George Wagner IV, one of the people charged with the deaths of eight members of the Rhoden family, appeared in court Tuesday as his defense argued for several motions to be dismissed.
The defense for Wagner IV argued that the court should suppress the testimony of his brother, Jake Wagner, and his mother, Angela Wagner. Jake pleaded guilty last April to eight counts of aggravated murder while Angela took a plea deal five months later on charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder.
The argument to suppress their testimony, specifically Jake’s, was built on the 6th Amendment, Wagner IV’s lawyers explained.
According to his defense, a good cross-examination of Jake by their side could make him change his story. The defense said if they did a good job with the cross exam, it would hinder their ability to represent their client, thus going against the 6th Amendment, the defense said.
The judge, after hearing the defense’s side and the prosecution’s counter, dismissed the motion. The judge’s ruling on Tuesday now paves the way for both Jake and Angela to take the stand.
In May, several other motions were discussed in case, including one that the judge denied.
Attorneys for Wagner IV stated that they would like a change of venue. His attorney says that they do not believe that they will get a fair jury in Pike County due to the case’s notoriety.
The judge denied the motion but said that the jury selection should be monitored.
Wagner’s attorneys were also stating that they were not getting addresses of the witness names because they believe some may be informants.
Prosecutor Canepa argues that the reason they did not provide the addresses was due to a safety concern.
Wagner’s attorney mentioned that he wants to interview Jake Wagner’s ex-wife, but Canepa says she pled for her life when she left the Wagner home.
Canapa continued to talk about other ‘acts of evidence’ regarding the case. She added that the family acted as unit.
The defense argues that the prosecution’s evidence on George’s family does not reflect him.
According to court records, attorneys for Wagner IV say that the confessions from his mother and younger brother determine that he did not shoot or kill any member of the Rhoden family.
George and his father, George “Billy” Wagner III, have pleaded not guilty.
They stated that they do not know who shot whom.
Wagner IV’s attorneys are arguing the death penalty should be off the table because he didn’t shoot anyone.
Court records show that he was indicted on a total of 22 charges.
Wagner IV is expected to start trial on Aug. 29.
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.
George Wagner’s attorneys say a new revelation that one of the Rhoden homes actually sits in Scioto County should be grounds for dismissal.
The prosecution says the Wagner’s planned the murders at their home on Patterson Road in Adams County and argued that in the course of conduct of the entire crime - the case can be tried anywhere.
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