Ohio judge keeps death option in arson fire that killed 3

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judge has denied a request to remove the death penalty option for a man accused of killing a 10-year-old girl and her grandparents in a March 2015 arson fire.

Attorneys for 47-year-old Robert Seman Jr., of Green, sought to have the death penalty declared unconstitutional because of how the appeals process works. A Mahoning County judge on Friday ruled that the attorneys failed to show how the process constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Prosecutors say Seman set the fire in Youngstown hours before he was scheduled for trial on rape charges for allegedly sexually assaulting 10-year-old Corinne Gump. A coroner said the girl and her grandparents, 63-year-old William Schmidt and 61-year-old Judith Schmidt, died of smoke inhalation.

Seman’s aggravated murder trial is scheduled to start in September.