Jury selection in Youngstown triple-murder case set for April

RAVENNA, Ohio (WYTV) – Now working under a Portage County case number, Judge Maureen Sweeney  Wednesday issued the schedule for the latest attempt to try Robert Seman on capital murder charges.

The trial was moved to the Portage County Courthouse because of excessive pretrial publicity in Mahoning County, which led to a pair of mistrials.

Seman is accused of setting fire to a Youngstown home in March of 2015, killing 10-year-old Corinne Gump and her grandparents, Bill and Judy Schmidt. Prosecutors said Seman set fire to the house where they lived because Gump was set to testify against him in a rape case.

Defense attorneys told the judge Wednesday they are still waiting for a report concerning chemicals used to clean cells in the county jail. The judge ordered prosecutors to get it done.

“If you need an order from me ordering the quartermaster, or whomever it is, to prepare that, I’ll be glad to do that but I want it done asap,” Judge Sweeney said.

Prosecutors said Seman suffered minor burns to his face from setting the fatal fire on the very morning he was to go on trial charged with raping the young girl, although Seman has claimed he was under electronically monitored house arrest at the time of the fire.

If Seman is convicted, he faces the death sentence.

Roughly 250 people will be part of the Portage County jury pool and lawyers for both sides will begin reviewing that list later this month. Judge Sweeney says she expects both sides to stay on schedule.

“I want everything taken care of ahead of time. I am not continuing this trial again,” Judge Sweeney said.

Individual questioning of jurors is set for April 17.