Investigators are attempting to pressure a Pike County murder victims’ relative into talking by charging him with evidence tampering and vandalism — charges that cost James Manley a job in Troy — his attorney alleged after learning Manley’s case would go before a grand jury.
Manley’s case was dismissed Monday from Pike County Court and will go directly to grand jury for an indictment, perhaps as soon as within the next two weeks. Manley, 40, was released Wednesday from Ross County Jail after his wife posted 10 percent of his $80,000 bond.
Manley — the brother of Dana Manley Rhoden, one of eight killed April 22, 2016 — turned himself in on charges of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and vandalism, a fifth-degree felony, for allegedly destroying a GPS tracker state investigators placed on his truck.
The decision means evidence or witnesses against Manley would be presented in closed session, instead of in open court at a preliminary hearing scheduled to have taken place Monday.
Manley is not charged in the murders, nor is anyone else. The Ohio Attorney General’s office has not said if Manley, or any other person, is a suspect in the murder case.
Pike County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Junk did not immediately return a call. A spokesman for Attorney General Mike DeWine declined to comment.
James Boulger, Manley’s attorney, objected to the state’s request the case go directly before the grand jury, noting prosecutors have demonstrated no evidence to support the charges.
Asked if his client was innocent of the tampering and vandalism accusations — Manley’s father has said his son destroyed the GPS device — Boulger took an extended pause.
“I believe that he is, but I have not seen any of the evidence that would have supported probable cause that is supposed to exist before you file a criminal complaint,” Boulger said.
“I think they want to put some pressure on him,” Boulger said. “Try to induce him to give them information that they think that he has. That’s what I think that they’re up to.”
And does he have any information that is of interest to investigators?
“Apparently not,” the attorney said.
Manley, a logger like his retired father, lost a job in Troy due to the publicity surrounding the case, Boulger said.
Using a synonym for people who are reserved or quiet, he called his client a “reticent” individual.
“He seems like a hard-working fellow who’s concerned about his family and has done well by them,” Boulger said.
In addition to Manley’s sister, those who died in the massacre were Hannah Gilley, 20, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, Gary Rhoden, 38, and Kenneth Rhoden, 44.