Pike County killings: George Wagner IV gets EIGHT consecutive life terms without parole for 2016 massacre
PIKE COUNTY, OHIO: George Wagner IV, who on November 30 was found guilty of killing eight Rhoden family members in 2016, was sentenced to life without parole, on Monday, December 19. He was convicted on all 22 counts, including eight counts of aggravated murder, as well as aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, forgery, and conspiracy.
Wagner IV remained still, looking straight ahead, as Pike County Court of Common Pleas Judge Randy Deering sentenced him to eight consecutive life terms plus another 121 years, NBC News noted. Wagner, 31, and his family plotted to kill the Rhodens over a custody dispute between Wagner’s brother Edward “Jake” Wagner, and one of the victims, Hanna Rhoden, who shared a toddler daughter, prosecutors said.
Pike County massacre trial: George Wagner IV, 31, convicted in 2016 murder of 8 members of Rhoden family
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Besides Hanna Rhoden, 19, her parents, 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 fiancee, Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and a cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38, were among the victims. Prosecutors, as per a report, noted that the Wagner clan had worked with his mother, Angela Wagner, father George 'Billy' Wagner, and brother Edward 'Jake' Wagner, to fatally shoot the eight members of the Rhoden family “execution-style” in multiple locations near Piketon in April 2016.
As per a report, more than a half-dozen of the victims' loved ones took the stage in Deering's court and outlined the years of grief they had already undergone and will continue to suffer in the aftermath of the slayings. Even though Wagner was not accused of shooting anyone, prosecutors claimed he participated in both the murders and their subsequent cover-ups, he had testified at his trial that he was unaware of his family’s deadly plans. But Deering said Wagner, even if he didn't physically pull a trigger, still bears great responsibility for the murder spree in which at least six of the victims were killed in their sleep.
“No sentence that the court may impose in this case would right the wrong that was inflicted upon the victims and the families. Murder is an irreversible act. And although time may alleviate the pain of loss, it has not, obviously, at this point — and may never," Deering said after loved ones of victims addressed the court. "It will not and cannot restore to the victims’ families what was and what might have been had the lives of their loves not been unlawfully and cruelly taken on that night in April 2016."
The death penalty had been taken off the table in an agreement between prosecutors and other members of the Wagner family in exchange for their testimony against him. Both Wagner brothers and their parents, Angela Wagner and George “Billy” Wagner III, were charged in connection with the slayings. George “Billy” Wagner III has pleaded not guilty. Angela Wagner pleaded guilty to a role in helping to plan the killings in exchange for a 30-year sentence. Jake Wagner last year confessed to shooting five of the Rhoden family victims in exchange for the death penalty being removed as a possible punishment.