Ohio judge keeps death penalty as option in Youngstown arson fire that killed 3

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio  — 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.

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

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

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