Seman defense attorneys respond after prosecution goes public wi - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Seman defense attorneys respond after prosecution goes public with evidence

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Robert Seman Jr. Robert Seman Jr.
Robert Seman Robert Seman

Robert Seman brought his trial to a dramatic end that no one could have predicted when he jumped from the fourth floor balcony of the courthouse to his death on Monday, now his attorneys are detailing how they were planning to defend their client.

In a statement released to 21 News Defense Attorneys Lynn Maro and Tom Zena say they could not sit by idly and allow only the State's version to go uncorrected.

Prosecutors are convinced gasoline is what Seman used to set the deadly fire at 3631 Powers Way in Youngstown killing 10-year-old Corinne Gump and her grandparents Bill and Judy Schmidt.

But the defense argues that on the morning of the fire a K-9 trained to detect the presence of accelerants did not detect any accelerant, including gasoline at that time.

On the day of the fire Robert Seman was on house arrest and monitored with a GPS bracelet.  

Prosecutors admit they cannot explain why the GPS ankle bracelet showed that Seman was at home.

While the state speculates he used lubricant to remove it in order to set the blaze without being tracked, the defense says the house arrest vendor reported no damage to his ankle bracelet at all, and they say he stopped to have it tightened the morning after the fire so that it would not be visible during his rape trial.

And did police overlook a suspect?  At the time of the fire Seman lived with a woman who the morning of the fire denied to police that she had a cell phone, then a few days later, erased the contents of her phone and turned it in for a new one.

As for the burns to Seman's face that prosecutors describe as their "I gotcha moment," the defense claims the burns were caused by another inmate at the jail who threw liquid cleaning solution on Seman and was seen entering Seman's cell the day before the burns appeared.  

A medical expert with the National Burn Center with over 30 years of experience was prepared to testify that the burns were chemical burns on Seman's face, not flash burns as prosecutor's described.

The burn expert was also prepared to testify that the make-up allegedly used by Seman would not have been sufficient to cover up serious burns.  It says right on the make-up tube that it's a "sheer tint," and not a full coverage foundation.

And video from Walgreen's where the make-up was purchased that morning shows Seman walking into the store with no burns on his face according to the defense.

Seman's attorneys also say there is surveillance video from the parking lot of a business not far from the deadly fire that was recovered by police.  They say the State did nothing with the video.  The video apparently shows a man a few hours before the fire walking towards the Powers Way home.  A few minutes later the same man walks back up Powers Way and gets in a car waiting for him in the parking lot of the business and he drives away.  

The defense also says police never interviewed an individual seen in the video driving up Powers Way entering the closed business within a minute of the fire starting.  They claim there was no effort to find out what was seen or heard from someone close by just before the fire.

Seman's attorneys tell 21 News their client had always maintained his innocence and the defense believes prosecutors only looked at him and never explored other suspects or theories.

On a side note, it's been two days since Seman committed suicide at the courthouse as he was being escorted from Judge Maureen Sweeney's courtroom.  Now the judge has revised an order for another defendant in an upcoming death penalty case, saying Lance Hundley will be shackled and handcuffed as he's escorted in the hallways to and from her courtroom.  Only allowing Mahoning County Sheriff's Deputies to remove the security devices once they are safely in the courtroom and before a jury can see the defendant.

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