Pike County murder trial closing arguments begin

In the prosecution’s closing arguments Monday in the murder trial of George Wagner IV, Special Prosecutor Angela Canepa made sure to focus on the testimonies of his family members.

Wagner is accused of killing eight members of the Rhoden family in their Pike County homes in 2016. During his trial that began in early September, two of his relatives testified as part of their plea deals in which they admitted to being part of the killings. Jake Wagner, George’s brother, and Angela Wagner, his mother, both took the stand, and Canepa told the jury Monday “they told the truth ... as horrific and disgusting as the truth is.”

Both told the courtroom about the family’s planning leading up to the shootings and how events unfolded.

Canepa also talked about George’s own testimony and told the jury to should weigh it “with grave suspicion.”

Throughout the trial, the defense has maintained he is not guilty in the killings, but is accused of them based on being a member of the family, which witnesses said was very tight-knit and even had finances that were shared.

The special prosecutor told the jury Monday, “I got a whole lot of ‘I don’t remembers’ from George.”

She pointed out that Jake and Angela’s testimonies matched because they told the truth, and that they said George was involved.

“Ask yourself: why would you say George was involved if George wasn’t involved?” Canepa said.

She also pointed to circumstantial evidence, such as ballistics that matched at multiple scenes. Overall, she said, George lied on the stand, “the first pack of lies, I’ll call ‘I don’t remember.’”

During her closing argument Monday, Canepa also went through all 22 charges against George.

Closing arguments will continue Tuesday.

WCPO’s Evan Millward contributed to this report.

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