Trial in 2016 slayings of Rhoden family delayed


WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) — The first jury trial in the shooting deaths of eight members of a single Ohio family more than six years ago has been delayed for a week.

Opening statements in the trial of 30-year-old George Wagner IV were scheduled to begin Tuesday in Pike County Court. But a court filing Monday said the proceedings have been delayed until Sept. 12 due to the illness of someone involved.

Wagner could face the death penalty if convicted in the 2016 slayings of the Rhoden family near Piketon in southern Ohio. A 12-person jury with six alternates was selected last week in county court in Waverly, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south of Columbus.

Authorities say the shootings of seven adults and a teenage boy stemmed from a dispute over custody of a child that George’s brother, Jake Wagner, had with Hanna Rhoden, one of the victims. George Wagner’s parents and his brother, Jake, were also charged.

Jake Wagner pleaded guilty last year, admitting to killing five of the victims. His plea was part of a deal with prosecutors that spared him from being sentenced to death. Wagner’s mother, Angela Wagner, also pleaded guilty to helping plan the slayings. Jake and George’s father, George “Billy” Wagner III, has pleaded not guilty.

The Wagners spent months planning the killings motivated by the custody dispute, prosecutors have alleged.