Search underway for court to hear trial of man accused of murder - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Search underway for court to hear trial of man accused of murdering Youngstown girl and grandparents

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Judith and William Schmidt Judith and William Schmidt

The man accused of raping a ten year old girl and later killing her so she couldn't testify against him will not be be tried in Mahoning County.

After months of legal wrangling, a judge has decided that Robert Seman cannot receive a fair trial here.

His attorneys say too many people in the jury pool think he's guilty.

Seman faces three counts of murder for allegedly setting fire to the Youngstown home where the bodies of ten-year-old Corrine Gump, and her grandparents, William and Judith Schmidt were found in 2015.

Corinne Gump died on the day she was scheduled to testify against Seman, who was accused of raping her.

The murder trial will now be moved to another county after Judge Maureen Sweeney conceded that the court could not find enough impartial jurors.  "The defense has a constitutional right to have a trial by an unbiased and objective jury of his peers," said Sweeney.

Ohio law doesn't mandate that jurors have no prior knowledge of the case. But it must be determined that jurors are able to set aside what they have heard in order to make an impartial decision in a case.  

In Mahoning County too many people called to sit on the jury think Seman is a killer.

Defense attorney Lynn Mauro told the court that prospective jurors were being given advice from people who said things like, "Just say you can be fair so we can get this done and kill him."

Too many prospective jurors knew about the case and had already formed opinions.

"Out of the first 95 potential jurors we had questioned, 52 already rendered an opinion about his guilt. They have been looking for the case on line and trying to find that information," said Mauro.

Some people reacted to the decision to move the trial, posting messages on social media insisting that Seman is guilty.

"A couple of people had to be escorted out of the courthouse by deputies because of what they were saying in the jury pool," according to defense attorney Tom Zena.

Now the process begins finding another Ohio county that can accommodate a death penalty case that has already taken almost two years to wind it's way through the justice system

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