Man accused of murdering wife and three stepchildren on trial

Posted at 7:47 PM, Mar 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-10 19:47:13-04

Newport News, Va. - The capital murder trial for a Newport News man charged with murdering his wife and three stepchildren will begin this week.

John Moses Ragin is accused of stabbing to death his wife Crystal Ragin and her three children before pouring gasoline on their bodies and setting their home on fire in August 2011. Police said Ragin escaped to South Carolina with the son he shared with his wife.

Most of the people in the jury pool knew something about this tragic case, according to lawyers during a motions hearing Monday. It has taken more than a week to whittle a big jury pool down to the final 12 and alternates. The notoriety of the case is one of the reasons Ragin's three-member defense team wanted a change of venue, but the judge denied it.

According to court documents obtained by NewsChannel 3 over the last few years, Crystal Ragin begged a judge to protect her from her husband before the murders. More than than 24 hours after a judge signed off on a protective order, a Newport News sheriff's deputy finally tried to serve John Ragin, but instead of finding him, the deputy walked into the crime scene.

Ragin has maintained his innocence.

Opening arguments are expected to begin Wednesday, and the trial could last at least a month.