A newly elected Ohio Supreme Court justice is taking himself off a case involving autopsies of eight slain family members.
Justice Patrick DeWine filed a notice of recusal Monday in the dispute over autopsy reports on seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family found shot to death at four homes near Piketon on April 22.
At issue in the case are lawsuits filed by Ohio newspapers seeking full, unredacted copies of the reports.
DeWine, a Republican, did not explain his decision. He is the son of Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is leading the investigation of the still unsolved killings and fighting the newspapers’ requests.
Democrats predicted Patrick DeWine would face several conflicts of interest if elected because his father was involved in so many cases.
The court announced in February that it would hear the case. The attorney general’s office is fighting the release of the full reports and provided heavily redacted versions last fall.
Those copies confirmed earlier accounts that all but one victim was shot multiple times in the head.
The victims were Kenneth Rhoden, 44; Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr. and 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden; a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden; and Frankie Rhoden’s fiancee, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley, whose 6-month old son with Frankie Rhoden was unharmed. Two other children, Hanna Rhoden’s 4-day-old daughter and Frankie Rhoden’s 3-year-old son, also were unharmed.
Early on, authorities disclosed a large-scale illegal marijuana growing operation at one of the crime scenes and said pot was being cultivated at some of the other homes.