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Ohio Man Pleads Guilty in 2016 Killings of 8 in Same Family

An Ohio man pleaded responsible on Thursday to eight counts of aggravated homicide within the deadly shootings of his youngster’s mom and 7 of her members of the family in 2016, against the law that spurred rampant hypothesis that it was tied to drug trafficking however that prosecutors mentioned had stemmed from a bitter custody dispute.

The person, Edward Wagner, 28, apologized for his position within the killings of eight members of the Rhoden household, 5 years to the date that their our bodies had been present in a number of cell properties and a camper in a sparsely populated space of Pike County within the southern a part of the state. Every sufferer had been shot within the head.

As a part of a plea deal reached in Pike County, prosecutors agreed to not pursue the demise penalty towards Mr. Wagner, whom they really helpful ought to serve eight life sentences with out the opportunity of parole. He had beforehand pleaded not responsible.

In alternate, Mr. Wagner, generally known as Jake, agreed that he would testify towards his mother and father and an grownup brother within the murder case, which took greater than two years of an intensive investigation earlier than arrests had been made. Mr. Wagner confessed to personally inflicting the deaths of 5 of the eight victims, in line with prosecutors.

“I’m deeply and really sorry,” mentioned Mr. Wagner, who will likely be sentenced at a later date.

Prosecutors mentioned that Mr. Wagner had been embroiled in a bitter dispute with Hanna Could Rhoden over the custody of their then-2-year-old daughter, Sophia, when he and his members of the family deliberate the murders.

On the time of the killings, Ms. Rhoden, 19, had begun seeing another person and was pregnant with that individual’s youngster, in line with prosecutors, who mentioned that Mr. Wagner had cast courtroom paperwork sustaining that he would get custody of Sophia within the occasion of Ms. Rhoden’s demise.

“Jake grew to be upset with Hanna over the truth that Hanna was exposing Sophia to those that he believed that she shouldn’t be round,” Angie Canepa, a particular prosecutor within the case, mentioned on Thursday.

Ms. Canepa mentioned that Ms. Rhoden had informed a buddy in a Fb message in December 2015 that she would by no means signal papers sharing custody of Sophia with Mr. Wagner.

“‘They should kill me first,’” mentioned the message, which was a part of hacked materials present in possession of Mr. Wagner’s household, in line with Ms. Canepa.

Beside Ms. Rhoden, her mother and father, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, and his ex-wife, Dana Manley Rhoden, 37, had been killed. So had been her siblings, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence (Frankie) Rhoden, 20. The opposite victims included Frankie Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah (Hazel) Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden’s brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and his cousin Gary Rhoden, 38.

Brian Okay. Duncan, a lawyer for the Rhodens, mentioned in an electronic mail on Thursday that the household was overcome by emotion over Mr. Wagner’s responsible plea.

“Mr. Wagner’s plea supplies no less than some semblance of instant justice, and a glimmer of hope that maybe all accountable events will finally be held accountable for his or her respective actions within the close to future,” Mr. Duncan mentioned.

The circumstances of Mr. Wagner’s mother and father, George (Billy) Wagner III and Angela Wagner, and his brother, George Wagner IV, all of whom have pleaded not responsible, are persevering with.

Prosecutors mentioned that Mr. Wagner had spent a number of months planning the murders and had bought supplies for making silencers for weapons and a cellphone jammer.

Shell casings matching a few of these used within the murders had been discovered on the Wagner dwelling, the authorities mentioned, and the tread marks from bloody footprints discovered on the scene matched these on a number of pairs of footwear that the Wagners had just lately bought.

The case had appeared that it’d contain medicine when sheriff’s deputies discovered three marijuana-growing operations on the premises of no less than one of many properties the place the victims’ our bodies had been found.

Along with the eight counts of aggravated homicide, Mr. Wagner pleaded responsible to fifteen different felony counts that included conspiracy, aggravated housebreaking and tampering with proof.

“I’m responsible, your honor,” he repeated when requested if he needed to vary his earlier not responsible pleas.

Greg Meyers, a public defender for Mr. Wagner, mentioned that his shopper had gone “eyes huge open” into the plea settlement.

“He is aware of he’s going to die in jail with none judicial launch,” Mr. Meyers mentioned.

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