An Ohio man accused of serving to his household plan, perform and canopy up the killing of eight members of one other household was discovered responsible of homicide Wednesday.
A jury convicted George Wagner IV on Wednesday afternoon on a number of counts of aggravated homicide and different prices associated to conspiracy and makes an attempt to cowl up proof within the 2016 bloodbath of the Rhoden household.
Wagner, who was not accused of capturing anybody, testified in the course of the trial that he was unaware of his household’s lethal plans. Earlier within the trial, a choose determined Wagner wouldn’t face the loss of life penalty upon a conviction as a part of an settlement between the prosecution and two different members of Wagner’s household who agreed to testify in truth towards him.
Prosecutors mentioned Wagner and his household plotted to kill the Rhodens over a custody dispute involving Wagner’s brother Edward “Jake” Wagner and one of many victims, Hanna Rhoden, who shared a toddler daughter.
Along with Hanna Rhoden, 19, the victims had been her mother and father, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, and Dana Rhoden, 37; her brothers: 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden and 16-year-old Christopher Jr.; Clarence Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and a cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38.
Each Wagner brothers in addition to their mother and father, Angela Wagner and George “Billy” Wagner III, had been charged within the killings. George “Billy” Wagner III has pleaded not responsible.
Angela Wagner pleaded responsible to a task in serving to to plan the killings in trade for a 30-year sentence. Jake Wagner final 12 months confessed to capturing 5 of the Rhoden household victims and has been spared the loss of life penalty on account of his plea.
”These murders ought to by no means have occurred,” particular prosecutor Angela Canepa mentioned throughout closing arguments. “We’re right here as a result of eight harmless victims had been slaughtered, most of them of their sleep, all of them unarmed.”
Canepa mentioned Wagner needs to be discovered responsible, even when he didn’t kill any of the Rhodens himself.
“He doesn’t should be the person who really pulled the set off,” she mentioned.
“You had been complicit, since you knew what was going to occur, you knew what they had been going to do, and also you aided and abetted them,” she mentioned of Wagner.
Throughout closing arguments, Wagner’s protection lawyer instructed jurors that Wagner had no cause to take part within the killing of Hanna Rhoden and her household. As an alternative, he mentioned, the blame lay with Wagner’s brother Jake and their mom, Angela.
“Jake and Angela have destroyed this man’s life,” John Parker mentioned of his shopper.
“Why would he comply with kill Hanna and her household? You heard him testify, Hanna was like somewhat sister to him,” he mentioned.
“He wouldn’t kill anyone. He didn’t kill anyone, and he didn’t go alongside as a result of it is mindless,” Parker mentioned.
Earlier within the trial, George Wagner IV testified that he had no data that his household deliberate to kill the Rhodens. Whereas he detailed his household’s historical past of crimes, together with burning their properties for insurance coverage cash, he mentioned he would have tried to cease the killing plot had he identified about it.
“I by no means would have believed my household could be able to doing one thing of this magnitude,” he testified. “Theft is one factor. Homicide is a completely completely different factor.”
Wagner mentioned if he had identified in regards to the plan, “a technique or one other, I’d have by no means let it occur.”
Each Jake Wagner and Angela Wagner testified towards George Wagner IV at trial as a part of plea agreements.
Jake Wagner testified that he was more and more involved his baby with Hanna Rhoden would possibly undergo abuse and in the end determined he “had no different alternative than to kill Hanna,” in line with NBC affiliate WLWT of Cincinnati.
Jake Wagner opted to have his testimony confined to the courtroom, and never broadcast on audio or video, which the choose allowed.
He additionally testified that George Wagner IV helped execute the plot and was speculated to kill Chris Rhoden Sr., the primary member of the Rhoden household who was killed that evening in April 2016, in line with the station.
Jake Wagner mentioned his brother froze and didn’t hearth, main Jake to kill the person himself, in line with WLWT.
Angela Wagner additionally testified in courtroom towards her son, saying that he was prepared to admit to the killings himself, however she was opposed, in line with NBC affiliate WCMH of Columbus, Ohio.
The prosecution requested Angela Wagner whether or not she regretted her actions, in line with the station. She mentioned sure and have become visibly emotional, WCMH reported.
“As a result of they’re my sons,” she mentioned. “I ought to’ve protected them from that scenario.”