BCI agents testify as Pike County massacre trial enters second week
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Two special agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation testified Monday as the Pike County massacre trial resumed.
Special Agent Shane Hanshaw returned to the stand for cross-examination by the defense after he testified for some seven hours Friday for the prosecution.
He was among scores of law enforcement officers who responded as the bodies of the Rhoden family members were discovered on the morning of April 22, 2016.
The veteran law enforcement officer explained how he painstakingly worked to gather a wide variety of evidence including ballistics, blood patterns and shoe prints from and around one of the trailers off Union Hill Road where the bodies of Chris Rhoden Sr. and Gary Rhoden were found.
He said he spent more than 15 hours processing the crime scene.
Dozens of blood swabs were taken to sample for blood, including a broken door handle to a second-floor room above the garage where Chris Rhoden grew marijuana.
Both sides agreed that traces of Gary Rhoden’s blood were found on the door knob but non belonging any of the Wagners was found.
That seemed to make the case for the defense.
“None of the evidence collected or examined, with respect to that scene, contained any DNA that was linked to George Wagner, this defendant, Jake Wagner, Angela Wagner, or Billy,” one of George IV’s attornies said to Hanshaw Monday.
Once Hanshaw’s testimony was complete, Special Agent Todd Fortner took the stand.
The murder trial of George Wagner IV is entering its second full week.
He has pleaded not guilty to killing Kenneth Rhoden and the seven other members of the Rhoden family.
Wagner IV, 30, is the first member of his family of four to go on trial.
The victims are Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his older brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; his cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38; his former wife, Dana Lynn Rhoden, 37, and their children: Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna May Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Frankie’s fiancé, Hannah Gilley, 20.
They were all shot execution-style, most as they slept and several times.
George IV’s younger brother, Jake Wagner, and his mother, Angela Wagner, will testify against him in a couple of weeks and are considered the star witnesses in this trial.
Both pleaded guilty for their roles in the slayings last year.
Pike County Common Pleas Court Judge Randy Deering is allowing all witnesses to decide if they want their testimony recorded and shown.
The trial itself will last some six to eight weeks, prosecutors have said.
The slayings are considered the state’s biggest and most complex homicide investigation.
The other Wagner still facing trial and accused of actually shooting and killing anyone is the family patriarch, 50-year-old George “Billy” Wagner III.
He has pleaded not guilty and remains locked up at the Butler County Jail.
He is charged with eight counts of aggravated murder, four counts of aggravated burglary, three counts of tampering with evidence, two counts of unlawful possession of dangerous ordnance and single counts of conspiracy, forgery, unauthorized use of computer or telecommunications, interception of wire, oral or electronic communication, obstructing justice and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
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