Charles Severance Competency Decision Delayed in Three Alexandria Murders

A decision on whether 54-year-old Charles Severance is competent to stand trial for the shooting deaths of three Alexandria residents over a 10-year span has been postponed until next month.

Severance, of Ashburn, Virginia, was sent to a state hospital last month for a second, more complete mental-health evaluation.

He is charged with capital murder in the deaths of three prominent Alexandria residents: Nancy Dunning in 2003, Ron Kirby in 2013 and music teacher Ruthanne Lodato last year. Prosecutors, though, have said they won't seek a death sentence.

At a pretrial hearing Thursday in Alexandria, lawyers declined to discuss the results of his evaluation. Severance has objected to having his competency questioned.

A hearing on his competency has been scheduled for April 23.

Severance had several verbal outbursts during a hearing in January, where the judge ordered him to be hospitalized to get a more complete mental competency evaluation. He complained to the judge about his lawyers and said, "I'd like the defense to competently argue I've been denied a right to a speedy trial."

The judge told him he had a very competent legal team.

In court Thursday, the judge also approved another $30,000 for defense team investigators, who have already spent $30,000. Severance's defense indicated they will want money to hire a firearms toolmark expert. The judge said ballistics would be a big part of the case.

Last year, Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook said that

the bullets used in all three cases

have the "same general rifling class and characteristics."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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