The Journal Gazette
Monday, September 27, 2021 12:50 pm

Lawyers: Man killed no one, so nix death penalty possibility


Associated Press

WAVERLY, Ohio -- Attorneys for an Ohio man charged in eight slayings want the aggravated murder charges and the possibility of a death penalty to be dismissed because they say prosecutors now have information indicating he didn’t kill anyone.

George Wagner IV, his parents and adult brother were charged in the 2016 Rhoden family shootings near Piketon in southern Ohio.

In a court filing Friday in Pike County, lawyers for the 29-year-old Wagner questioned the fairness of proceeding with the capital case when recent information turned over by prosecutors indicates Wagner didn't kill the victims.

His brother, Edward “Jake” Wagner, pleaded guilty earlier this year and admitted fatally shooting five people. Prosecutors said Jake Wagner gave a full account of what happened and led them to additional evidence.

His mother, Angela Wagner, pleaded guilty this month to helping to plan the slayings, and prosecutors said she gave them new information. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop aggravated murder charges against her.

Those plea deals include agreements to testify against the remaining defendants -- George Wagner IV and his father, who has pleaded not guilty -- if those cases go to trial.

Authorities say the shootings stemmed from a dispute about custody of a child Jake Wagner had with one of the victims.

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