YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Defense attorneys for Robert Seman argued to have some evidence thrown out of his murder trial, which is scheduled to begin in just ten days.
Seman is accused of killing 10-year-old Corinne Gump and her grandparents in March 2015.
The three died in a house fire that was set on the day Seman, who is accused of raping the little girl, was scheduled to go on trial. Prosecutors say he murdered Gump to silence her.
On Thursday, Seman’s defense team argued police took illegal actions in their investigation. The lawyers are disputing searches of his SUV and home, which they claim were done illegally.
Sheriff’s Deputy William Horn told the court he took Seman’s keys for safekeeping after he was arrested in court the day of the fire on Powers Way in Youngstown.
The investigation then shifted to Goshen Township, where police tried to find Corinne’s mother, Lynn Schmidt. Schmidt didn’t show up for court and wasn’t answering her phone, so police went to the Calla Road home Schmidt and Seman shared.
“We had beaten on the doors, the side doors. Even started knocking on windows. You couldn’t see inside the home to actually see if anyone was okay,” said Sgt. Lawrence McLaughlin.
He said no search took place.
“Stuck the key in the door, opened the door and began calling her name,” McLaughlin said. “Finally after a minute or so, she responded.”
He said they never went to the home to search it, but only to check on Schmidt.
Attorney Tom Zena also said police violated Seman’s rights after he was arrested.
“We were counsel for Mr. Seman at the time of the rape case when he was taken into custody. I will advise the court there was no attempt to contact me prior to questioning of Mr. Seman.”
Police said Seman didn’t ask to speak to his attorney, and brought a signed document to court.
“This piece of paper is from the Youngstown Police Department, and it’s titled ‘Advice of Rights and Waiver,'” said Det. David Sweeney.
Sweeney confirmed that Seman signed it.
In court Thursday, the defense did not mention their request to move the trial out of the county because of all the news coverage on this story.
Judge Maureen Sweeney did not make any decisions Thursday. Another hearing is set for next week.