YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The defense team for accused killer Robert Seman is trying to keep out evidence that they say doesn’t apply to the murder trial.
Seman appeared for another pretrial hearing on Wednesday afternoon.
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.
Prosecutors say they need to show those prior acts, including the specifics of the rape accusation against Seman, to the jury to prove their case. Seman’s attorneys say it will poison the jury, however.
“The fact that the young lady, the little girl that perished in the fire was in fact the principal witness and the alleged victim in that case, those are gonna come in, because they’re a spec, but anything as to the body of that offense, we believe is highly prejudicial and has no bearing on this case,” said Seman’s attorney, Tom Zena.
Although Seman was under electronically-monitored house arrest at the time of the fire, prosecutors have indicated they will try to show he tampered with his bracelet. The defense said the state can’t make that stick.
“The big thing is the empirical evidence on the house arrest absolutely shows there was absolutely no violation,” Zena said.
The initial pool of 400 perspective jurors drawn last month has been whittled down to around 160. Orientation for them begins this Friday, and individual questioning starts next week.
If an impartial jury cannot be found locally, the case would be moved to another county and the selection process would have to begin all over again.