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Ohio man found guilty of 8 counts of murder

George Wagner IV was found guilty Wednesday of planning and carrying out the 2016 murder of eight members of a family over a custody dispute. File Photo courtesy Mike DeWine/Twitter
George Wagner IV was found guilty Wednesday of planning and carrying out the 2016 murder of eight members of a family over a custody dispute. File Photo courtesy Mike DeWine/Twitter

Nov. 30 (UPI) -- An Ohio man was found guilty Wednesday of planning and carrying out the 2016 murder of eight members of a family over a custody dispute.

The 12-member jury deliberated for eight hours before finding George Wagner IV guilty on all 22 counts he faced in the killings of eight members of the Rhoden family in 2016 in Pike County, Ohio.

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Wagner IV was among four people arrested in 2018 in connection with killing seven members of the Rhoden family and the fiancée of one of the victims. Of those arrested, Edward "Jake" Wagner -- Angela Wagner's son -- had been in a custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend, Hannah Rhoden, one of those slain.

The families had been longtime friends and lived in Pike County in the Appalachian region of the state.

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Federal investigators had been observing them since the summer of 2017.

The 13-week trial saw 60 witnesses give hundreds of hours of testimony.

Several Rhoden family members who lost loved ones in the homicides filled the courtroom on Wednesday as Pike County Judge Randy Deering read the guilty verdict aloud

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Wagner IV, 31, did not speak to the court and showed no visible emotion after hearing the verdict, which included eight for convictions for aggravated murder, plus conspiracy, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and obstructing justice charges.

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"Good won today and evil lost," Pike County prosecutor Rob Junk told reporters outside the courthouse after the verdict.

"Today's verdict does not bring your loved ones back, but I hope it gives you some semblance of peace that one of the evil monsters that did this to your family is being held accountable," said special prosecutor Angela Canepa.

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Wagner's mother, Angela Warner pleaded guilty in 2018 to her role in the mass killings and was handed a 30-year prison sentence with no chance of early release.

His brother Jake Wagner confessed last year to shooting five of the Rhoden family victims and pleaded guilty in order to avoid the death penalty.

Their father, George Wagner III has pleaded not guilty.

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