Severance’s Writings Convey Animosity Toward Police: Expert

A forensic psychologist said he believes Charles Severance, the man accused of killing three Alexandria residents over a 10-year span, has a personality disorder. 

At a pretrial hearing Thursday, Dr. William Stejskal said Severance's writings "convey pervasive mistrust and animosity" toward law enforcement. The writings, in addition to interviews with Severance's family and friends, led to a diagnosis of personality disorder with mixed paranoid and schizotypal features.

On Thursday, Judge Randy Bellows also reversed an earlier ruling and is allowing lawyers for Severance to point the finger at Alexandria Sheriff James Dunning for the 2003 slaying of Nancy Dunning.

Prosecutors objected, saying the defense theory wrongly drags Dunning's name through the mud. Dunning was a suspect in his wife's killing for years but was never charged. James Dunning died in 2012. Relatives left the courtroom visibly upset after the ruling, Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reported.

The defense team made it clear it will spotlight evidence against the former sheriff, including a 911 call in which he calls his wife's death a murder before the cause was known.

The judge put off a decision on whether to allow cameras in court until next week.

Severance is charged with three slayings over the span of a decade in the city of Alexandria. All three victims were shot in their homes, in broad daylight, in a wealthy, residential neighborhood. Music teacher Ruthanne Lodato was shot to death as she answered a knock at her door Feb. 6, 2014. Ron Kirby, director of the department of transportation planning for the Council of Governments, was shot and killed Nov. 10, 2013.

The trial starts Oct. 5.

Prosecutors say Severance was motivated by anger at losing a child custody case in Alexandria and sought revenge at what he perceived as the city's ruling class.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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