West Virginia Prosecutor Maintains Charles Severance Gun Charge Is Legitimate

The West Virginia prosecutor trying to get Charles Severance extradited to northern Virginia will make two main points in court Wednesday: That Severance is a fugitive and that the Loudoun County gun charge against him is a legitimate criminal charge.

Prosecutor Scott Smith filed his response to the defense case laid out in a court filing earlier this week. Over and over again, Severance's defense attorney, Shayne Welling, has called the gun case a sham, an excuse to hold Severance while Alexandria police build a murder case against him.

“Mr. Severance is being improperly and unlawfully detained primarily for the purpose of investigating other matters,” Welling said.

The defense's 56-page filing in response to Virginia’s request to extradite also reveals a witness. A former girlfriend told police she bought two .22-caliber guns for Severance and hasn’t seen the guns since he left an Ashburn townhouse with them March 10. Alexandria's search warrants for that townhouse listed "murder" as the reason for the investigation.

While Alexandria police won't name Severance as a suspect in three unsolved murders, West Virginia authorities have made the link.

Smith rejects the claim the Loudoun gun case is a charade, saying Alexandria police could continue its homicide investigation even if Severance wasn’t in jail.

He included an affidavit from Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman to back up the gun charge.

"I have sufficient evidence to secure the conviction of the said accused," Plowman wrote.

In Friday's court filing, Smith also answers the defense complaint that Severance can't be held as a fugitive because he didn't know of the gun case against him when he left his Ashburn townhouse on March 10 and eventually made his way to Wheeling. Severance is indeed a fugitive, Smith said. West Virginia law only requires that a suspect leave the place the crime was committed. They don't have to be on the run from a known charge.

Severance's defense attorney also claims the extradition request itself is based on faulty paperwork and should be dismissed and Severance freed, pointing out there are two versions of the warrant that bear different handwritten numbers at the top -- one executed by Wheeling police and the other from Loudoun County. Smith said the documents do not conflict and bear the same printed tracking number.

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