Man accused of killing wife, children wants trial by judges


LONDON, Ohio (AP) — Opening arguments have been made in the murder trial of a man charged with killing his wife and two children in an arson fire at their Ohio home in 2008.

Peter Romans, 60, of London, has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder, murder and aggravated arson. He opted to have a three-judge panel hear his case, rather than a jury, and he could face the death penalty if convicted.

Prosecutors maintain Romans set the fire that killed his wife, their 12-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. Romans has maintained his innocence, saying 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.

Dan Kasaris, who is prosecuting the case on behalf of the Ohio Attorney General’s office, said in his statement Tuesday that Romans poured kerosene in the SUV and set the blaze inside the vehicle, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Kasaris suggested that Romans was especially desperate because he had previously spent a long stretch out of work and the family’s finances had collapsed.

Defense attorney Sam Shamansky called the whole case a sham built on nothing but speculation and said he would dismantle it “piece by piece.” He said no crime was committed, noting that his client “lost everything in the world that mattered to him the most … It was all taken from him in an instant.”