When will the Rhoden murder trial start? The Pike County Court said it plans to set a date by the end of the year. The trial date was originally scheduled to be set today, but a key member of the court staff was not present due to an accident and the setting of the trial date and a hearing for pre-trial motions was postponed.
The hearing was scheduled for 11 am but got off to a late start due to difficulties transporting Edward “Jake” Wagner from jail. Wagner appeared in court in civilian clothes. During the last pre-trial hearing in September, the defense requested motions challenging the admissibility of ballistic and shoe print evidence be continued to October 29. The hearing date was continued until December 2, due to Wagner’s illness and moved again to today. The motions were once again continued and a new date will be set before the end of the year.
At previous hearings, the court granted the defense’s request for copies of audio recordings, forensic reports, and bench notes. The state said it expected to have the transcripts by the end of the year and provided other reports to the defense today.
The brutal murders of 8 people shocked the rural area nearly 5 years ago. Jake Wagner once again waived his right to a speedy trial through October 1, 2021. When questioned by the judge, Wagner said he felt he had adequate contact with his attorneys and was “very” satisfied with his attorneys.
On April 22, 2016, eight members of the Rhoden family were found murdered.
- Frankie Rhoden – 20
- Frankie’s fiance Hannah Gilley -22
- Hanna Rhoden -19
- Christopher Rhoden, Jr – 16
- Christopher Rhoden, Sr – 40
- Kenneth Rhoden – 44
- Gary Rhoden – 38
- Dana Rhoden – 37
All were shot in the head. Prosecutors allege that the murders were the result of a custody dispute between Hanna Rhoden and Edward Jacob Wagner. Wagner along with his brother George Wagner IV and his parents George Wagner III and Angela Wagner were charged with the murders.
Prosecution of the case has been hampered by scandals in the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, issues with evidence, and investigation, and a problem with the state’s lead prosecutor in the case. Among the issues:
- Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader was indicted and suspended on corruption charges unrelated to the case.
- Lead investigator Mike Trout was demoted for his behavior during the Rhoden investigation.
- The trailer when evidence was stored in the case was broken into.
- The state’s lead prosecutor Angela Canepa abruptly quit the case last month with no explanation.