Three of the four members of the Wagner family accused of murdering eight members of the Rhoden family in 2016 were in the Pike County Common Pleas Court this week for pretrial hearings.
George “Billy” Wagner III’s hearing took place on Monday. Edward “Jake” Wagner and Angela Wagner’s hearings were on Wednesday. According to the Pike County Common Pleas Court website, all three Wagners appeared in court “without restraints visible outside their clothing.” Billy and Jake Wagner appeared in civilian clothing. Though her motion to appear in court in civilian clothing had been approved, Angela Wagner appeared in jail clothing, the court’s website said.
In all three hearings, the State of Ohio was represented by Prosecuting Attorney Rob Junk and Special Prosecuting Attorneys Angela R. Canepa and Anthony D. Pierson.
The court’s site noted that Billy appeared in court on Monday with his court-appointed attorneys, Mark C. Collins and Thomas F. Hayes as well as two attorneys, Kaitlyn C. Stephens and Emily Enstett, who were not court-appointed but work with his court-appointed attorneys. His attorneys, according to the court, have been communicating with Billy via video conference as well as in person.
The court site noted that Billy and his attorneys filed a motion on Oct. 18 requesting the deadline for substantive motions be extended because “discovery in this case is extremely voluminous and counsel needed the appropriate amount of time to thoroughly decipher the discovery received.” On Nov. 1, the court extended the deadline to Dec. 11.
The court site notes that during the hearing on Monday, the court “inquired…as to the status of the State of Ohio’s provision of discovery. Counsel for the defendant [Billy] indicated to the court that the defense had received from the state approximately 90 percent of discovery and that the discovery process will be ongoing.
“Counsel for the defendant further indicated to the court that, in view of the fact that discovery was not complete, the defendant had on the day of this pretrial filed another [motion to extend the substantive motions deadline]… The court finds that the defendant’s ability to file substantive motions, defined as motions based upon the specific facts of the present action, is dependent, at least in part, upon the State of Ohio’s provision of discovery.”
The court site noted that at Billy’s hearing, as well as at Jake and Angela’s hearings, the attorneys requested that a “discovery coordinator” be hired “due to the voluminous discovery in the present action.”
In the entries for all three Wagners’ hearings, the site states that the defendants and their attorneys must file motions requesting funds to hire a discovery coordinator by Jan. 31, 2020. In the entry from Angela Wagner’s hearing, the site states that the state must respond to the motion to hire a discovery coordinator on or before Feb. 10, 2020.
Billy’s next pretrial hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.
At Edward “Jake” Wagner’s hearing on Wednesday, the court website notes that Jake appeared in court with public defenders Gregory W. Meyers and William J. Mooney.
The site states Jake’s attorneys “indicated to the court that discovery is still ongoing and that it is the understanding of the defense counsel that by Dec. 31, 2019, the State of Ohio will furnish defense counsel with discoverable information and material concerning the recent search of the ‘Fredericka Wagner property’ known as the ‘Flying W Ranch’ and concerning the plea negotiations between the State of Ohio and Rita Jo Newcomb. Counsel for the State of Ohio indicated that the State of Ohio would provide such discoverable information by Jan. 31, . It is therefore ordered that the State of Ohio shall furnish the defense with all discoverable information and material concerning the recent search of the ‘Fredericka Wagner property’…and concerning the plea negotiations between the State of Ohio and Rita Jo Newcomb on or before Dec. 31, 2019.”
The site also notes that the deadline for Jake and his attorneys to file substantive pretrial motions was extended to Jan. 31, 2020.
Jake’s next pretrial hearing is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.
At Angela Wagner’s hearing on Wednesday, the Pike County Common Pleas website notes that she appeared in court with attorneys Robert F. Krapenc and Mark M. Hunt.
The site states that “at the hearing held on Sept. 16, 2019, the State of Ohio and the Defendant, through her attorneys, agreed to modify the schedule for filing ‘substantive’ pretrial motions, and, upon such agreement, it was ordered that the Defendant [Angela] shall serve and file all ‘substantive’ pretrial motions on or before Nov. 1, 2019. As of the time of the pretrial hearing on Dec. 11, 2019, however, the Defendant had not filed any ‘substantive’ pretrial motions.
“The Court further inquired at the pre-trial hearing… as to the status of the State of Ohio’s provision of discovery. Counsel for the Defendant indicated to the Court that the defense had received the bulk of discovery from the State of Ohio, but there were still some items of discovery that had not been furnished to the defense and that the discovery process is ongoing. Counsel for the Defendant and counsel for the State of Ohio further indicated to the Court that the State of Ohio would provide the defense with additional discovery involving some recent developments in the action on or before Dec. 31, 2019, and that further discovery that had not yet been furnished will be furnished on or before Jan. 31, 2020. It is therefore ordered that the State of Ohio shall comply with this discovery timetable as agreed on by both parties.”
Angela’s next pretrial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.
George Wagner IV, Angela and Billy’s oldest son, who is also accused of murdering members of the Rhoden family, is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 at 2 p.m.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.