Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Death Penalty Sought in Ohio Arson Rape Suspect Charged in Killing Girl, 2 Others

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Death Penalty Sought in Ohio Arson Rape Suspect Charged in Killing Girl, 2 Others

Article excerpt

Prosecutors in Ohio will seek the death penalty against a man charged with burning down the home of a 10-year-old girl he was accused of raping, killing her and her deaf grandparents.

A grand jury in Mahoning County on Thursday indicted Robert Seman Jr., 46, of Canfield, Ohio, on multiple counts of aggravated murder, aggravated arson and aggravated burglary.

The indictment accuses Mr. Seman of starting the fire March 30 that killed Corinne Gump, whom he was accused of sexually assaulting for four years, and her grandparents, William Schmidt, 63, and Judith Schmidt, 61, hours before jury selection was to begin in the rape trial.

"I'm shocked that anybody would want to do that to them, to anyone, but especially to Bill and Judy," Steve Leland, who had known the grandparents for 25 years, said Friday.

Neighbors said the home on Powers Way in Youngstown exploded in flames early that morning. A firefighter was injured when he fell between floors.

Detectives found two 5-gallon plastic gas cans at the scene, and prosecutors said gasoline was used to start the fire.

At the time of the fire, Mr. Seman, who was dating Corinne's mother, was free under electronic monitoring after posting a $100,000 bond in the rape case.

He also is accused of bribing a witness after his ex-wife told police he offered her $10,000 before the rape trial if she would tell officials the child had lied to police.

Five hours after officials received reports of the 3 a.m. fire, Mr. Seman went to the office of the electronic monitoring agency, asking to have his monitoring anklet replaced with a tighter one, according to a news release from Mahoning County prosecutor Paul Gains.

When officials learned of the fire and the alleged bribery, they revoked Mr. Seman's bond and ordered him into the custody of the sheriff, Mr. Gains' news release said. …

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