Severance trial: Secret Service agents, ex-girlfriend testify

FAIRFAX, Va. — Two Secret Service agents testified Tuesday afternoon about their interaction with Charles Severance, who had tried to seek asylum from the Russian Embassy in D.C. in 2014.

Both agents testified about responding to the embassy, which had requested help removing an unwanted person: Severance, who was wearing a poncho and a three-cornered hat.

Severance told Officer John Medwick that he was the Mayor of Alexandria and was seeking asylum with Russia.

Medwick testified he escorted Severance from Russian soil and interviewed him. Severance, who had his passport in hand, seemed calm and respectful, but displayed disorganized thinking.

Sgt. Stephen Lillist says Severance told him the City of Alexandria had persecuted him for years and “they” were seeking revenge on him after he ran for mayor in 1996 and 2000.

Both agents testified they followed Severance and were instructed to detain him. They then escorted Severance to his parking spot at an underground garage at the National Cathedral and took a photo of his car — a red Ford Escort.

Searching for two missing guns

Charles Severance’s parents told Alexandria police that they did not purchase ammunition nor did they know they had any in their Oakton, Virginia, home, according to a statement from the couple read to the jury Tuesday afternoon.

Police searched the couple’s home, where Severance stored some of his belongings, and found two boxes of Remington .22-caliber ammunition. One of the boxes was missing 10 bullets and no fingerprints were found on the boxes, Alexandria Det. Sean Casey testified.

A search of ponds near the Severances’ home and another near the Ashburn home of Severance’s then girlfriend Linda Robra turned up no evidence in the case.

Police have never found two guns that Robra bought at Severance’s urging. Robra testified earlier in the day that she noticed the revolvers were missing after Ruthanne Lodato’s death.

Alexandria police chief: We considered former sheriff in wife’s shooting

Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook confirms that police had investigated former Sheriff Jim Dunning as a person of interest in his wife’s 2003 shooting death.

However, Cook, who led the investigation into Dunning’s murder, says the sheriff was never a suspect. Dunning’s involvement was considered along with others who were also considered persons of interest.

Jim Dunning died in 2011 — several years before Ron Kirby and Ruthanne Lodato were gunned down at the front doors to their homes, each about a mile from the Dunning home.

Cook also testified that investigators presented evidence to an Alexandria grand jury about Jim Dunning.

Cook also testified about the results of ballistic analysis, which provided a common link between a three cases. The same type of ammunition and the same type of gun were used in all three crimes.

The Alexandria case was moved to Fairfax County to ensure Severance receives a fair trial.

Nothing amiss

Linda Robra says she doesn’t remember anything different about Severance’s behavior around the time of Ron Kirby’s killing in November 2013 or Ruthanne Lodato’s death in February 2014.

Robra, Severance’s former girlfriend, also testified that he didn’t tell her he had sought asylum at the Russian Embassy in D.C. nor that he was stopped by the Secret Service.

Ex-girlfriend: Severance told me to buy a guy for protection

Linda Robra, Charles Severance’s former girlfriend, told the jury that it was his idea that she should buy two North American Arms 5-cylinder, .22-caliber revolvers and low velocity ammunition for protection.

Robra says Severance taught her how to load the guns. And she didn’t know why police found two cartridge casings in her garage because she had never fired the guns.

But she told detectives recently that she had seen Severance cleaning one of the guns.

Robra’s work records show she was substitute teaching on the days that Ron Kirby and Ruthanne Lodato were killed.

Severance lived with Robra at her Ashburn home until police began investigating whether he was involved in Lodato’s death.

She told the jury that an Alexandria detective had left a card at her home after Lodato died. But Severance refused to call police and instead said he was going camping. So she told him to leave.

Two days later, Robra noticed the two guns she had purchased were missing. She never saw Severance take the guns and it was unclear when they disappeared.

Severance’s attorneys have said previously that when Robra kicked him out, he headed to Wheeling, West Virginia, for historical research and stopped to visit a friend in Maryland along the way.

2 women take stand in Severance trial

The second week of Charles Severance’s murder trial is underway and two women from Severance’s past have testified Tuesday morning.

Opening the day, an Ohio woman whom Severance once visited testified about the conversations they had regarding his mental state and his passions.

Theresa Mooney says Severance found her through When he stayed with her in 2007, he was traveling to promote a game he developed called “Mental Disorder.”

Mooney says he told her that he was schizophrenic and that he “snapped” when he talked about losing custody of his son.

Alexandria city courts terminated Severance’s parental rights in 2001. He filed repeated, but unsuccessful appeals, and prosecutors say the experience fueled his hatred toward law enforcement, the courts and government officials.

Severance’s ex-girlfriend Linda Robra testified that he suggested she buy two .22-caliber revolvers in the spring of 2012.

Prosecutors say the bullets that killed Nancy Dunning, Ron Kirby and Ruthanne Lodato were .22-caliber and three revolvers of the same type and brand were used in all three crimes.

Severance lived with Robra in her Ashburn home until 2014 when police began to investigate Severance in connection with Lodato’s death.

Severance is charged with the murders of the three Alexandria residents. A Fairfax County jury of 16 men and women will decide the case.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty and Amanda Iacone contributed to this report. 
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