Judge Approves Mental Competency Evaluation for Severance

The man accused of killing three prominent community members in Alexandria, Virginia will undergo a mental competency evaluation, a judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Jane Marum Roush ordered the competency exam for Charles Severance Friday at a pretrial hearing in Alexandria Circuit Court.

Defense attorneys for Charles Severance say he lacks the mental capacity to understand the court proceedings against him. When his attorney asked the judge to appoint a doctor for the evaluation, Severance jumped to his feet, shouting, "He no longer represents me."

Roush told Severance that he was still represented by the three-member legal team, and Severance sat down. Roush then ordered the evaluation.

Severance gave a middle-finger gesture to the court photographer after the hearing.

Severance is charged with the shooting deaths of three well-known Alexandria residents: Nancy Dunning more than a decade ago; Ron Kirby in November 2013, and Ruthanne Lodato in February.

Relatives of all three vicitms were present in the coutroom, including Lodato's widower, Norm, and his daughter; both of Dunning's children, and Ron Kirby's children.

A longtime friend of Severance went to the courthouse to show support, saying he didn't think Severance could have done what's alleged.

Severance's parents also were in the courtroom Thursday, but declined to comment after the hearing. His attorneys also declined to comment.

The attorneys had previously filed a series of motions, including a request to dismiss the charges and to separate the decade-old murder of Nancy Dunning from the other two cases.

Those motions will be withdrawn for now.

The results of the mental competency evaluation will be reviewed at a hearing Jan. 22.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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