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Charles Severance to face one trial for three murder charges

Charles Severance tries to speak to the judge during a motions hearing in the case against alleged Alexandria killer Charles Severance at the Alexandria Circuit Court in Alexandria, VA on Thursday April 23, 2015. (Pool photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON — A man accused of killing three Alexandria residents will face one trial for murder charges, a judge decided Monday.

Judge Jane Roush has denied the motion to try Charles Severances’ 2003 murder charge of Nancy Dunning separately from the murder cases of Ron Kirby and Ruthann Lodato, reports NBC Washington.

Severance is accused of killing Dunning, Kirby and Lodato because he was angry with Alexandria city government and authority in general after he lost custody of his son.

Dunning, who was shot in 2003, 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 daughter of a retired Alexandria judge. 

Severance’s defense attorneys had filed a motion to sever the Dunning case, who was killed a decade before the two other victims, Ron Kirby and Ruthanne Lodato. Attorneys pointed to the decade between the cases, lack of evidence and a difficulty in researching and finding the people needed to testify who would be able to accurately recall what happened.

Alexandria’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter argued the motives, ballistics and manner of the killings were too similar not to tie together in the murder trial.

Severance himself spoke to the judge in court, asking the cases be tried together — because he didn’t want “the burden of winning two trials.”

He is due back in court on Thursday for more pretrial decisions, but ahead of that, Roush has denied the defense’s motion to sever the Dunning case and all three will be tried together.

His trial begins in early October.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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