Judge grants change of venue for Charles Severance trial

A judge has granted a change of venue for the trial of Charles Severance, the man accused of gunning down three Alexandria residents inside their homes over a decade.

In court Thursday, Severance did not sit quietly. He shouted his objection to Judge Jane Roush's decision to move the 54-year-old accused serial killer's murder trial to Fairfax County. The judge said Severance's lawyers were correct in arguing that fears caused by his alleged crimes would make it difficult to seat an impartial jury in Alexandria.

Calling the three murders signature crimes, Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter said investigators can tie Severance to three different revolvers that were used to kill Nancy Dunning, Ron Kirby and Ruthanne Lodato. Prosecutors argued Severance all but admitted to the murders in a poem he wrote.

According to prosecutors, a neighbor's security camera captured images of Severance's Ford Escort station wagon leaving the scene of Lodato's murder in February of last year. She was a beloved music teacher. Regional transportation official Ron Kirby was shot dead three months earlier. Realtor Nancy Dunning, who was married to the Alexandria sheriff, was killed in December 2003.

Prosecutors said Severance was motivated by an intense and long-lasting anger following a child custody case from many years ago. The mother of his baby son was given custody of the child. He accused the city of Alexandria of kidnapping the boy.

In court Thursday, Severance said he wanted to be called the "accused," not the "defendant." Severance's attorneys also want the cases separated. They're asking the judge to try the Dunning case separately from the Kirby and Lodato crimes. The judge said she will have a decision on that in the days ahead.

Severance's trial is scheduled to begin in October. 
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