Jury Seated in Trial of Charles Severance, Accused of Killing 3 in Va. Over a Decade

Opening arguments expected to begin Thursday.

A jury has been chosen in the murder trial of a Virginia man accused of killing three prominent Alexandria residents over the course of more than a decade.

Charles Severance, 54, is charged with the murders of Nancy Dunning, wife of then-Sheriff James Dunning, in 2003; transportation planner Ron Kirby in 2013 and music teacher Ruthanne Lodato last year

All three were shot in their homes, in broad daylight, in a wealthy, residential neighborhood.

Jury selection took three days, as a pool of more than 100 people were slowly winnowed down to a jury of 12 and four alternates. Six of the jurors are women; 10 are men.

Severance had one request as the jury was chosen: He wanted to examine the sealed box that the names of the jurors would be put in. He examined it and handed it back, an observer in the courtroom reported.

Opening arguments in the case now are expected to begin Thursday.

Severance's trial was moved from Alexandria to Fairfax because of pretrial publicity in Alexandria and because of widespread fear the killings caused there. The trial is expected to take six weeks. 

Would-be jurors were told that even though Severance is charged with capital murder, this will not be a death penalty case.

Prosecutors say Severance, a former Alexandria resident with a history of erratic behavior, committed the killings as revenge against what he perceived as the city's ruling class after losing a child custody case.

Defense lawyers for Severance have said that their client suffers from schizophrenia but they will not make an insanity defense.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us