Killer handed life sentence for killing family of eight as they slept

The victims’ grieving family members spoke of the pain they have felt since losing their loved ones, during an emotional trial on Monday when they urged the judge to show no mercy to the evil killer.

Mr. Wagner, along with his brother and parents, is accused of killing seven adults and a teenager from the Rhoden family in Pike County, Ohio in 2016.

Prosecutors said most of the victims were killed as they slept, in some cases next to their very young children, who were left unharmed.

Prosecutor Angela Canepa told the judge: “None of these victims deserved to die. None of them did anything to warrant the death sentences they received at the hands of the defendant and his family”.

Wagner, 31, declined to make a statement in court, and his lawyer said he maintains his innocence.

Authorities alleged that Wagner and his family had plotted to kill the Rhoden family members over a custody battle of Wagner’s niece, whose mother was among those murdered.

The April 2016 murders happened at three mobile homes and a camper in rural Ohio and officials initially believed a drug cartel could have been involved.

Andrea Shoemaker, the mother of Hannah Gilley, who was shot in the horrific incident, pounded the lectern in court as she became emotional over the loss of her “baby girl” and her daughter’s fiance, both only 20 years old – and the parents to and baby boy.

The devastated mum said: “We are all suffering, hurting, always heartbroken, forever without our children! All because devils like the dark, devils hunt at night, just like you, George Wagner IV, and your evil family did.”

Tony Rhoden, whose brothers Chris Sr. and Kenneth Rhoden were among the victims, remembered better, earlier times, when he and his siblings played in the local creek, raced homemade toy boats and caught skunks with buckets.

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Mr Rhoden said in court that his family members’ lives had been “cut short by the selfish acts of others”.

Wagner looked down at the defense table and showed no emotion as family members lashed out at him.

During the trial, the prosecution alleged Wagner was with his brother and father when they went to the homes, that he went inside, and that he helped his brother move two bodies.

He was convicted of 22 counts, including aggravated murder but did not receive the death penalty after his brother made a plea deal to testify against the others and avoid all four Wagner family members avoid execution.

The judge imposed eight consecutive life sentences, one for each victim.

Prosecutors argued that Wagner showed no remorse and that he was only spared death through his brother’s actions, not his own.

He is the only member of the Wagner family to face trial so far, both his brother, Edward “Jake” Wagner, and his mum, Angela Wagner, pleaded guilty to the crime.

Edward pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and other charges and is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison, while Angela pleaded guilty to helping plan the murders and could face a 30-year sentence.

Meanwhile, her husband George “Billy” Wagner pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

The victims were Christopher Rhoden Sr, 40, his ex-wife Dana Rhoden, 37, their three children, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna Rhoden, 19, and Christopher Rhoden Jr, 16.

Clarence Rhoden’s fiancee, Hannah Gilley, 20, Christopher Rhoden Sr’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and a cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38, were also killed.

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