YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Prosecutors released new evidence Tuesday morning in the case of Robert Seman — the accused triple murderer who fell to his death Monday after leaping off a fourth-floor balcony in the Mahoning County Courthouse.
They held a press conference, telling some of the evidence they would have presented in trial next week in Portage County.
Seman was 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.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that Seman’s ex-wife went to the fire scene on Youngstown’s south side that morning two years ago claiming he had tried to bribe her.
“She talked about him showing up to her house and another place and offered her $10,000,” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Dawn Cantalamessa said.
Later that morning — after Seman appeared in court for a hearing on his rape charges — deputies found make-up prosecutors claim was purchased on his way to the courthouse. They say it was used to cover burns on his face and head.
“Our arson guys, our state fire Marshal guys, say that this is clear evidence of a flash burn,” Cantalamessa said.
But prosecutors believe the key linking him to the deadly fire came from two gasoline cans recovered at the scene. A plastic glove was stuffed into the mouth of one of them.
“It’s found in that glove in that gas can,” Cantalamessa said. “The DNA — his DNA.”
Two days after the fire — acting on the burns and make-up they discovered — authorities searched Seman’s house in Green Township. They found some clothing in a washing machine with gasoline residue on it.
Authorities admit they don’t know how Seman managed to get out of his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet that morning. They also aren’t sure how he got back and forth from the Schmidt home to set the fire they believe caused his burns.
Still, they believe they had more than enough to convince a Portage County jury Seman was so desperate to get out of his rape case that he’d kill his young victim.
“I think it’s the most cold, calculated murder we’ve seen in as many years as I’ve been here,” Cantalamessa said.