Charles Severance seeks single trial in Alexandria slayings

WASHINGTON – Accused killer and former Alexandria resident Charles Severance asked a judge Thursday not to break up the charges against him into two separate trials.

Severance’s defense attorneys had requested that their client be tried separately for the murder of Nancy Dunning, who was killed a decade before the two other victims, Ron Kirby and Ruthanne Lodato, who Severance is charged with killing.

“I don’t want the burden of winning two trials,” Severance said at the beginning of the hearing, which was his first held in Fairfax County.

Last month, special Judge Jane Roush agreed to move Severance’s trial outside of Alexandria because of pre-trial publicity surrounding the case. The three victims were well known in the Alexandria, where Severance once lived and even ran for mayor. He is accused of killing Dunning, Kirby and Lodato because he was angry with city government and authority in general after he lost custody of his son.

Roush did not rule whether Severance will face two trials or one. She heard arguments regarding eight motions Thursday.

Roush denied motions to exclude evidence found when search warrants were served at the home of Severance’s parents and girlfriend; Lodato’s dying declaration and video taken at a Target store that shows a man who appears similar to Severance following Dunning in 2003.

Severance was seated in a wheelchair during the hearing. His attorney says his injured ankle was aggravated during the move to the Fairfax County jail.

Dunning was the wife of then-Sheriff James Dunning. Kirby, shot and killed in November 2013, was an influential transportation planner for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. And Lodato, shot in the front door of her home in February 2014, was the sister of a retired Alexandria judge.

Alexandria’s judges all recused themselves, and Roush, a Fairfax County judge, was appointed to try the case.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report from Fairfax, Virginia.

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