Ohio shooter of 5 family members said he ‘had no choice’

WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man convicted of taking pictures 5 of eight members of the family killed in a 2016 bloodbath testified Monday he had no selection however to kill the mom of his youngster.

Jake Wagner pleaded responsible final 12 months to taking pictures the 5 victims, an assault that investigators mentioned resulted from a custody dispute between two households.

As a part of his plea deal, Jake Wagner had agreed to testify in opposition to his older brother, George Wagner IV, in change for being spared the demise penalty.

George Wagner IV, whose trial has entered its eighth week in Pike County court docket, faces the demise penalty if he’s convicted within the slayings of the Rhoden household close to Piketon. George Wagner is the primary particular person to go on trial for the killings.

Jake and George’s mom, Angela Wagner, additionally has pleaded responsible to serving to plan the slayings, and is anticipated to testify. Jake and George’s father, George “Billy” Wagner III, has pleaded not responsible. He doubtless gained’t go on trial till subsequent 12 months. The 4 members of the Wagner household weren’t arrested till greater than two years after the slayings.

Particular prosecutor Angela Canepa has not accused George Wagner, 31, of taking pictures anybody in April 2016, however she mentioned he took half in planning, finishing up and protecting up “one of the heinous crimes in Ohio historical past.”

The 2 households had been shut for years, however Canepa described the Wagners as being obsessive about gaining management over the kid that Jake Wagner had with Hanna Rhoden.

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The Wagner household had pressured Hanna Rhoden to signal away custody of the 3-year-old woman, however Hanna vowed in a Fb message despatched 4 months earlier than the bloodbath that “they must kill me first,” Canepa has mentioned.

Jake Wagner, who mentioned he feared his daughter may endure abuse, testified Monday that Hanna Rhoden’s remark was his “tipping level” when he determined Hanna, 19, needed to die.

George Wagner was along with his brother and his father after they drove to 3 separate places the place all eight victims have been killed, went inside with the pair and helped his brother transfer two of the our bodies, Canepa mentioned beforehand.

Jake Wagner testified Monday that that was the tipping level that led him to conclude he needed to kill Hanna, who was 19 on the time of her demise. He mentioned the opposite supposed victims have been Hanna’s brothers Frankie and Chris Rhoden and their father, Chris Rhoden Sr. The opposite 4 victims have been killed as a result of they might have been witnesses, Jake Wagner testified.

Jake Wagner additionally testified that George Wagner was alleged to kill Chris Rhoden Sr. however did not fireplace, so Jake Wagner shot Rhoden himself.

Protection legal professional Richard Nash has mentioned George Wagner isn’t like the remainder of his household and had nothing to do with the killings.

The Wagners spent three months planning the bloodbath, shopping for masks, ammunition and a tool to jam cellphone indicators, Canepa mentioned. The 2 brothers even dyed their hair within the week main as much as the killings, she mentioned.

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A number of discoveries, Canepa mentioned, led investigators to the Wagners together with a shell casing discovered outdoors the Wagner’s residence that matched one from a gun that killed 5 of the victims.

These killed have been 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three youngsters, 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 16-year-old Christopher Jr., and Hanna; Clarence Rhoden’s fiancee, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; and a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden.