WAVERLEE, Ohio (WXIX) – A jury in the Pike County massacre trial went home Friday without hearing any evidence or testimony, prompting the judge to unexpectedly cancel the court, ending the eighth trial for the murder of George Wagner IV. The week ended abruptly.
Pike County Massacre: Full Trial Coverage
Pike County Republican Judges Court Judge Randy Deering dismissed the jury after it ruled that Wagner’s legal team could review the transcript of Wagner’s 2018 wiretapping record over the weekend.
The state plans to begin playing them back on Friday, and two law enforcement officers from the Ohio Criminal Investigation Service were ready to testify on the witness stand.
But defense attorney John Parker said he had just learned that morning about 20 recordings prosecutors had planned to present to jurors from thousands of hours of tape, as well as related records. years ago.
Special counsel Angela Canepa and Andy Wilson argued that they could not decide which recordings to play for the jury until most of the witnesses had testified.
State star witness Jake Wagner and his and George Wagner’s mother, Angela Wagner, testified along with several others.
Jake Wagner testified over four days last week.
Angela Wagner concluded three days of testimony on Thursday.
The judge sided with the defense and canceled the day’s trial, saying that “in the interest of fairness” he would be given time over the weekend to review a transcript of the recordings that jurors will hear once the trial resumes on Monday.
The defense challenges the wiretapping that is taking place, or at least asks the judge to limit the wiretapping. A judge is due Monday to decide whether any of the recordings the state plans to present will be restricted.
During its tense briefing hearings, it became clear that the state was nearing the end of its case and was due to rest early next week after presenting evidence of wiretapping.
We have other evidence issues to hash next week.
Special Counsel Canepa and Parker got into a heated argument Friday over a photo of a BCI simulation of an actual pickup truck bed.
Parker said the state did not ask Jake Wagner to identify the simulated truck bed during his testimony and did not turn over the photos to the defense.
This prompted the judge to ask Canepa why he didn’t ask Jake Wagner about the “Karakuri” they made.
It wasn’t a deliberate omission, she replied, adding that the defense had access to the simulated truck bed just as it would in the state.
However, Parker also pointed out that the pickup truck was modified after Billy Wagner handed it over to his niece.
Additionally, George Wagner’s defense team is skeptical that the client, given his weight at the time of the murder, would have fit under the bed of a fake truck full of hay bales.
If the judge allows a photo of the simulated truck bed to be admitted as evidence, the jury will consider all these additional facts when determining whether the photo is credible and Jake – Should be instructed to compare with Wagner’s testimony.
In other developments on Friday, Pike County prosecutor Rob Junk was out sick, but other prosecutors said they could continue without him.
The jury was told nothing of this as the judge dismissed them.
“Again, the Court appreciates that you are here every day and look after you every day,” Deering said.
George Wagner and three other members of his family were charged with the execution-style killings of eight members of the Roden and Gilly families in November 2018. His mother Angela Wagner, 52, and his brother Jake Wagner, 28.
George Wagner, 31, and his father have pleaded not guilty and continue to fight all charges, including eight counts of aggravated murder.
George Wagner’s attorneys tried unsuccessfully to dismiss the murder charges against his client earlier this year before the trial began.
His brother and mother’s confessions prove that he never killed or shot anyone.
A judge sided with the state, arguing that George Wagner should be found guilty of murder because of his active participation in planning, preparing for, and covering up the massacre.
Billy Wagner’s trial is set to take place in Pike County next year.
However, Angela Wagner and Jake Wagner pleaded guilty to their role in last year’s murder. Their testimony against George Wagner was part of a plea bargain.
Their testimony was conducted off camera at the request of them and the state.
The custody and control of Jake Wagner’s then-two-year-old daughter and one of the victims, Hannah Mae Rhoden, 19, were the motives behind the killings, prosecutors said.
Both Angela Wagner and Jake Wagner testified that they feared Sophia would be sexually abused as a motive for the massacre.
By 2016, Jake Wagner and Hannah Mae Rhoden shared custody of Sophia, swapping her every other week.
Jake Wagner said on the stand that he was “jealous” when his child’s mother moved and started seeing other men after they broke up.
Hannah Mae Rhoden had a second daughter, Kylie, and was dating another man when Jake Wagner said he killed her.
Angela Wagner said on the stand that when Sophia returned home, her private area was “red” and had a “strong odor.”
Angela Wagner claimed her redness subsided during her week with Wagner, but it returned after Sophia returned to Roden.
Under cross-examination, George Wagner’s attorneys asked Angela Wagner why she didn’t report her concerns to Children’s Services, telling Jake Wagner that he had gone to a judge, Dana Rhoden, I asked Hannah Mae Rhoden’s mother (his daughter’s other grandmother) why she didn’t warn her.
Angela Wagner replied that she didn’t know, and Jake Wagner said on the stand:
Both mother and son confirmed on the stand that their entire family had participated in the massacre.
Jake Wagner also told in graphic detail that he killed five of the eight victims and shot and wounded the sixth. At the stand, he confirmed that his brother had killed one person, shot no one, and never actually fired a shot.
Angela Wagner was not with her son or husband on the night of the murder. She remained at home with her sons’ children (her grandchildren) and fell asleep when she put her children to bed.
In testimony this week, she said she didn’t want to know the details of the killing.
However, Angela Wagner said on the stand that George Wagner had offered to take responsibility for the killing.
She told him she couldn’t do it because she didn’t think investigators would accept his story.
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