WAVERLY, Ohio (WCMH) — The attorneys for one of the people charged in the deaths of eight members of the Rhoden family want the murder charges, or at least the threat of the death penalty, removed from the case.
A filing last week in Pike County Common Pleas Court by attorneys for George Wagner IV said that information shared to them by prosecutors shows that they know he didn’t shoot or kill any of the victims.
“The State seeks to hold the death penalty over the head of George Wagner, who did not kill anybody,” the filing reads.
It seeks dismissal of the murder charges, or at least possibility of the death penalty. The attorneys argue that evidence against him does not exist that meets the standard for the death penalty.
Wagner’s brother, Jake, recently struck a plea deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to the murder charges in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and agreeing to testify against the other members of his family facing charges.
The Wagner brothers, plus their parents, George III and Angela, were accused of murdering the members of the Rhoden family overnight in April 2016, apparently over a custody dispute between Jake and Hanna Rhoden, one of the victims, in a massacre that made national headlines and shocked rural Pike County.
Angela reached a plea deal with prosecutors this month, pleading guilty to 14 of 22 charges against her, including conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence. But she did not plead guilty to any of the murder charges. George IV and George III have not reached plea deals.
The next hearing date in the case against George Wagner IV is Oct. 25.