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Ohio lawmakers vote to give county $100K for Pike County massacre trials

Posted: 11:35 AM, Dec 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-14 16:35:24Z
Pike County suspect Billy Wagner in court

WAVERLY, Ohio -- Ohio lawmakers passed a bill Friday that would give Pike County $100,000 toward the upcoming trials for four members of a family accused in the Pike County massacre.

The Ohio House voted for House Bill 500 after midnight, WCPO news partner the Journal-News reported. State records show the Ohio Senate also passed the bill, which also makes various changes to township law, Thursday. It now goes to Gov. John Kasich for approval.

The investigation into the deaths of eight members of the Rhoden family already cost Pike County between $500,000 and $600,000. The county has no jail, and contracts with Butler County to house its inmates at a cost of $60 per person per day. County leaders have estimated trying the four suspects charged with aggravated murder could cost between $2 million and $4 million.

The financial crunch already prompted Pike County to switch to quarterly budgeting, officials previously said.

Rep. Shane Wilkin introduced a bill that would defray county costs associated with capital cases.

"It is incumbent upon the county currently to provide not only the prosecution but, in this case it looks like the majority of the public defense ... We have the cost of the trial, the cost of the jury and this could stretch on for some time," Wilkin previously said.

Wilkin's bill has not moved since it was introduced earlier this month.

Four members of the Wagner family have been charged with aggravated murder and other crimes in the April 2016 deaths of Chris Rhoden Sr., Dana Manley Rhoden, Hanna Rhoden, Chris Rhoden Jr., Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, Kenneth Rhoden, Gary Rhoden and Hannah Gilley.

George "Billy" Wagner III, Angela Wagner, George Wagner IV and Edward "Jake" Wagner have all pleaded not guilty.