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Witness in Charles Severance case testifies at hearing | News

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Witness in Charles Severance case testifies at hearing
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- A witness to one of three murders gave an emotional testimony in the Charles Severance case Thursday. The murders happened in Alexandria over a ten-year period, but it was moved to Fairfax. The hearing focused on the final murder, that of Ruthanne Lodato in February of 2014.

The witness was the caretaker of Lodato's elderly mother. In court Thursday, she broke down and sobbed recalling Lodato's murder. She also said she saw the man with the gun, felt a terrible pain, fell to the floor and started screaming.

"The family is deeply indebted to her...she was heroic and courageous," said John Kelly, family friend of the Lodatos.

Jeanette Dorcas Franco gave police the sketch of the gunman who killed Lodato. Police say he knocked on Lodato's door, and shot her, and then wounded Franco.

"She gave a description to police that led to the arrest of a murderer," said Kelly.

WUSA9's Peggy Fox was tweeting live from the hearing.

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Alexandria Detective William Oakley testified about putting together a photo line up for the witness to view. He said he found pictures of five other men who were all of white men of the approximate age, between 50-06 years old and with grey hair.

Detective John Wallace with Fairfax County Police testified that he was brought in to conduct a blind administrative showing of six photos to Franco. It's called "blind" because he was unconnected to the case and had never seen a photo of Severance. Det. Wallace testified that Franco looked longer and more closely at Severance's picture, she could not say positively identify.

Laurence Dan Mathias, a friend of Severance, says he's innocent. "They're not looking for the truth...it's like Charles Severance has already convicted." Mathias said he does not think his friend if mentally ill...just eccentric.

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The defense asked the judge for a second competency hearing, saying that Severance is not assisting in his own defense and that they have to talk to him through the jail cell's foot slot.

Judge Jane Roush denied the request for a second competency hearing. She said it seemed any lack of cooperation on Severance's part seemed to be willful. Severance, a usual, did speak out twice Thursday, both times judge Roush calmly answered his concerns.

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Roush also denied several other defense requests, including a motion to exclude photo lineup evidence and a motion to allow access to the crime scenes, which are the victim's homes.

The trial of Charles Severance is scheduled to start on October of 5th.

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