WAVERLY, Ohio — The tenth day of trial for George Wagner IV in Pike County was almost the final round of autopsies for victims in the Rhoden slayings. Only one remains — Kenneth Rhoden — that will be taken up next week.
The day started with former BCI agent Bryan White resuming the witness stand and finishing going over Dana Rhoden’s house and crime scene. He spoke about evidence he collected, such as phone cords, bullet fragments, and blankets with blood. The witness went until lunch without the defense doing a cross.
After lunch, Dr. Karen Looman, from the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office resumed the stand for the third time in two weeks. She is the doctor who conducted the eight autopsies. Friday, the state focused on crime scene three, which is Dana’s house. Inside, of course, investigators found three bodies: Dana, Chris Rhoden Jr., and Hannah May Rhoden. All three had been shot multiple times in the head while they were in their beds.
She said all three victims were shot with the same gun, which was not the same gun used to kill the other five victims. The defendant, Wagner, 30, did not look at the television screens when the autopsy photos of the victims were shown. Instead, he looked forward and showed no emotion, while family members of the Rhodens cried in the gallery. As with most days, Wagner’s name was not mentioned once by the state in a trial that is all about him.
Dana was shot five times, the doctor testified. The first shot was to her left forehead, less than three feet away. The doctor said she knew this because the skin showed signs of gunpowder. The second was to the right forehead, the third was to her center forehead, the fourth was above her right ear, and the fifth was along her right chin.
Dana had no illegal drugs in her body during the blood screening; the doctor testified that only one or two of the gunshots would have been fatal. The state said in their opening statements that co-defendant Jake Wagner will testify that he shot Dana Rhoden, and then went to kill the others, but came back and fired more shots into Dana’s head because “she was making noises.”
Hanna was only shot two times, according to the doctor, with both in the head. She, of course, was nursing a newborn baby, as we know. The state says that Jake will testify that Hanna was asleep in her bed, but heard him in the doorway of her bedroom and rose up to see who was standing there; that’s when he shot her, the state said. Prosecutors claim that Jake will testify that it was dark in the room and that Jake does not believe Hanna recognized him. After he shot her, he repositioned her body so she could continue to breastfeed her newborn baby. The baby was not injured and was found when the bodies were.
CHRIS RHODEN JR.:
Chris Jr. was shot four times in his bed. It is believed he was asleep and did not flinch. All of his wounds were in his head. One of the bullets caused a complete fracture of his skull, Dr. Looman said. She also testified that a silencer could have been used, but that if so, it would not be possible to tell.
Court broke for the weekend at around 3:10 p.m and will resume on Monday with scene four, which is Kenneth Rhoden’s camper.