State And Regional

Pike County murder trial: Jury finds George Wagner IV guilty on all charges

PIKE COUNTY — After a nearly three-month long trial, a Pike County Common Pleas jury has reached a verdict in the first Pike County murders trial.

The jury late Wednesday afternoon found George Wagner IV guilty on all 22 counts brought against him.

After reading the verdict, the jury had to return to the jury room to complete paperwork they filled out for count 21.

News Center 7 spent the day in Pike County where the jury got the case for deliberation at about 8: 30 a.m. The bailiff announced that a verdict had been reached around 4 p.m.

After the verdict was read, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the case was one that tested the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s abilities.

“Today’s jury verdict puts the stamp of approval on the bureau’s work,” Yost said. “I am grateful for the untold hours, days and weeks that our investigators and forensic scientists dedicated to this case – it reinforces the team’s dogged determination to secure justice for the victims and their families.”

The defense team for George Wagner IV gave their closing arguments Tuesday and stated why they think Wagner is innocent.

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George Wagner IV was previously indicted on multiple counts of aggravated murder, as well as other charges.

He was accused of killing Hanna Rhoden, 19; her father, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his wife, Dana Rhoden, 37; their sons, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Frankie’s fiancé, Hannah Gilley, 20; and relatives Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and Gary Rhoden, 38, execution style in April 2016.

He and his brother, Jake Wagner; mother, Angela Wagner; and father, George “Billy” Wagner, have all been accused of the murders. In April 2021, Jake pleaded guilty to eight counts of aggravated murder and a list of other charges for his role. Five months later, Angela Wagner pleaded guilty to her role in the killings.

During closing arguments, John Parker, one of George’s attorneys, told the jury his client was not like his family. The attorney said they aren’t close and that George had nothing to do with the plotting and planning of all eight murders.

“I ask you to take it seriously. I ask you to return a verdict of ‘Not Guilty’ on all charges, all charges. George wasn’t even out there. He told you that. There is nothing credible here to say otherwise,” Parker said.

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Special Prosecutor Andrew Wilson said there’s no way George wasn’t involved in the murders. He said despite Wagner’s testimony that he wasn’t close to his family, evidence has shown that he did have a relationship with them.

“There’s been no direct testimony that he actually pulled the trigger in any one of those murders, but you better believe he’s up to his eyeballs with his family,” Wilson said.

Prosecutors said they took the death penalty off the table when both Jake and Angela agreed to testify against George.

Sentencing for George Wagner IV is scheduled for mid- to late December.

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