Defense asks for change in house arrest for grandmother connected to Rhoden murder case


    Rita Jo Newcomb appeared in court Thursday afternoon for a pre-trial hearing. (WKRC)

    WAVERLY, Ohio (WKRC) - Rita Jo Newcomb appeared in court Thursday afternoon for a pre-trial hearing.

    Newcomb is the mother of Angela Wagner, who is one person charged with capital murder for the killings of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families.

    Newcomb is charged with forgery and obstruction of justice. She’s accused of forging custody documents for her grandsons and Hanna Rhoden on April 3, 2016 -- 19 days before the murders.

    At the hearing, there was some discussion between the prosecution and defense about how much of her testimony should be given to the defense as part of their case. The defense wants a transcription of all of her testimony; the prosecution says it's only required by law to give the portion related to the charges.

    The prosecution also requested that Newcomb not be allowed to contact anyone also facing charges in this case. The defense argued that it wasn't necessary as Newcomb is out on bond with electronic monitoring and her every movement is being tracked.

    As with the Wagner family members charged in this case, the judge did order Newcomb have no contact with them. The state says they're also planning to file a motion for a gag order.

    The defense requested Newcomb's bond be changed too. They argue that Newcomb takes care of her mother and a farm 12 miles away with animals that need care. They would like her bond to allow her to go to both places.

    The prosecution objected to this request, saying Newcomb doesn't have that many animals that need care and that her son is unemployed so he could feed the animals. They said allowing Newcomb to go to both places would defeat the purpose of house arrest.

    The defense shot back, saying Newcomb's son in not unemployed -- that he's a self-employed livestock broker. The judge told the defense they should file a motion with as much detail.

    Wagner matriarch, Fredericka Wagner, appeared in court earlier on Thursday, where it was revealed that she's accused of lying to the grand jury about one thing: the purchase of two bulletproof vests seized from her son's room at her home.

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