Va. judge grants Severance’s petition for appeal

WASHINGTON — A Virginia court of appeals judge has granted the bid to overturn the convictions for Charles Severance, a man serving multiple life sentences for the murders of three Alexandria residents.

Severance, 56, was found guilty last year for the murders of Alexandria residents Nancy Dunning, Ron Kirby and Ruthanne Lodato. Following a trial that lasted several weeks in November, the jury recommended Severance pay a $400,000 fine and serve three live sentences plus 48 years for the crime.

Virginia Lawyers Weekly first reported that the Virginia court of appeals judge granted the bid to overturn the convictions to three issues: whether there was sufficient evidence to convict; whether it was improper not to hold the murder trial of Dunning separately, as she was killed 10 years before the two other victims; and whether a trial judge should have sentenced Severance to two capital murder convictions for the killings of Kirby and Lodato.

During the trial, prosecutors laid out a largely circumstantial case, but also presented testimony from a key eyewitness. The circumstantial evidence was extensive, and much came from Severance’s own hand. In his voluminous writings, he glorified murder and justified revenge against those responsible for the kidnapping of a child.

In May 2015, Severance’s defense attorneys had requested that their client be tried separately for the murder of Dunning but the motion was denied.

Severance was found guilty of all 10 counts against him, including charges of capital murder, first-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a felon and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Severance’s appointed attorney Jim Hundley, said the Attorney General’s office has requested an extension and a date is not yet set for the appeals hearing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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