Man's trial in 8 slayings set for April after brother's plea

A trial is scheduled next spring for a man who along with his brother and parents was charged in the slayings of eight people from another southern Ohio family

WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) — A trial has been scheduled next spring for a man who along with his brother and parents was charged in the slayings of eight people from another Ohio family.

A judge announced the April 4 trial date for George Wagner IV during his brief court appearance Monday in southern Ohio's Pike County.

Wagner, 29, has pleaded not guilty in the 2016 slayings of seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family.

His younger brother, 28-year-old Edward "Jake" Wagner, pleaded guilty two months ago and agreed to cooperate in the cases against the other three defendants under a deal to help all four avoid potential death sentences. Prosecutors have said he provided a full account of what happened, plus information that led to them to more evidence.

Attorneys for George Wagner IV said Monday they haven't yet seen what Jake Wagner provided to prosecutors but expect to get that information from them by an early August deadline.

Trial dates haven't been set for the brothers' parents, George “Billy” Wagner III and Angela Wagner, who also pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say the slayings were prompted by a dispute over custody of a child Jake Wagner had with victim Hanna Rhoden. Authorities said their daughter was staying with the Wagners on the night the homicides occurred and wasn’t among the three young children found unhurt at the scenes of the shootings.

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This story was first published June 21, 2021. It was updated Sept. 13, 2021, to correct which children were found unharmed at the scenes of the slayings. Authorities said that Jake Wagner’s child was staying with the man’s family the night of the killings but that she was not among the three found at the scenes.