The 60-year-old London man opted to have a three-judge panel hear his case, rather than a jury, and he could have faced the death penalty if convicted.

LONDON, Ohio (AP) — A man accused of killing his wife and two children in an arson fire at their Ohio home in 2008 was acquitted Thursday of all charges by a three-judge panel that heard the case.

Peter Romans, 60, of London, faced aggravated murder, murder and aggravated arson charges. He opted to have a three-judge panel hear his case, rather than a jury, and he could have faced the death penalty if convicted.

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Prosecutors maintained Romans set the fire that killed his wife, their 12-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. Romans’ lawyers 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.

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Dan Kasaris, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the Ohio Attorney General’s office, said Romans poured kerosene in the SUV and set the blaze inside the vehicle. 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 no crime was committed, noting that his client “lost everything in the world that mattered to him the most.”

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