SHERIFF

Severance Makes Initial Court Appearance on Murder Charges

A former Alexandria resident charged in the killing of three prominent community members over a 10-year span made an initial appearance in a city courthouse Sept. 16.

Charles Severance, 53, is facing two counts of capital murder and one count of first-degree murder. He made no comment during the hearing, at which he appeared via closed-circuit TV, allowing his new court-appointed attorney to speak for him.

For months, Severance, who has a history of erratic behavior, has been the focus of an investigation into three homicides in Alexandria, one of which dates back more than a decade.

Severance is formally charged with murder in the 2003 slaying of Nancy Dunning, wife of then-Sheriff James Dunning; the November 2013 shooting of transportation planner Ronald Kirby; and the February shooting of music teacher Ruthanne Lodato.

The Lodato and Kirby slayings carry a potential death sentence, but prosecutors have indicated they won't seek Severance's execution.

Severance has been transferred to an Alexandria jai.

This story has been corrected from an earlier version that said a trial date had been set. We regret the error.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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