LONDON, Ohio (AP) — A man charged with killing his wife and two children in an arson fire at their Ohio home in 2008 wants a three-judge panel and not a jury to hear and decide his case.
Peter Romans, 59, has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder, murder and aggravated arson. Defense attorney Sam Shamansky asked Wednesday in Madison County Common Pleas Court that two judges be appointed to the panel with the current judge.
Shamansky also asked that Romans be allowed to change his mind and opt for a jury trial after learning which judges are appointed. Defendants have the right to know who is making decisions in their case, Shamansky said.
Judge Janet Burnside agreed the law would allow Romans to withdraw his waiver of a jury trial, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Burnside, a retired judge from Cuyahoga County, is hearing the case by special assignment.
Prosecutors maintain Romans set the fire that killed his wife, their 12-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. Romans was wrongfully accused, according to Shamansky.
Romans has said the fire was caused by a faulty part on his 2001 Ford Expedition SUV, which was parked next to the house. The part was under recall at the time.