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Severance case heading to jury Thursday morning | News

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Severance case heading to jury Thursday morning

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- The jury will begin deliberating the murder case against Charles Severance Thursday morning.

Closing arguments were heard on Wednesday and Severance's fate will be put in the hands of the jury Thursday at 10 a.m. Severance is accused of killing three people over a time frame of 11 years. Severance spoke in court on Tuesday.

Tuesday, the judge asked Severance if he understood he had the right to testify in court and Severance went into a rambling history lesson. When the judge repeated his question, Severance complained about how he had been treated and said he was denied the right to a speedy trial.

His defense argued Severance's bizarre behavior and menacing writings are that of a confused man, not a killer.

Severance defense wraps up testimony

Severance did not make an insanity plea and his defense is that he did not commit any of the murders. His attorney said they've got the wrong guy. 

Prosecutor David Lord said Charles Severance hated the city and people of Alexandria, blamed them for the loss of his son, and sought revenge by killing Nancy Dunning, Ron Kirby and Ruthanne Lodato, all prominent city residents. 

He called the murders signature crimes with similarities too great to be coincidental. All three occurred in the same neighborhood, at the same time of day and in the same way. Spelled out by Severance in what prosecutor's call his manifesto for his crimes. 

"Introduce murder into a safe, secure neighborhood.  It shudders with horror. Do it again and again. Knock, talk, enter kill exit. Murder wisdom," Severance wrote. 

The missing murder weapons were 22 caliber guns, which Severance had access to.  Ammunition found in Severance's parents home match those used in the murders. The only witnesses, Lodato's employee, identified Severance in court as the gunman. The defense said the description of a man with a shorter beard is not Severance.  

Defense Attorney Megan Thomas told the jury that the Commonwealth is jumping to conclusions with "absolutely no forensic evidence linking Severance." 

"Not one hair, fiber, fingerprint, strand of DNA, not one palm print from any of these three crime scenes," Thomas said. "Everyone is suspicious of  the middle aged man with no place to call home. Severance was an easy target."

The Commonwealth's attorney said there is no DNA evidence because, like an assassin would do, Severance wore gloves. In fact, the Commonwealth attorney said two baggies of latex gloves were found in Severance's car. 

Thomas said Commonwealth's witnesses changed their stories. But, she told the jury that if they believe it was Severance's Red Ford Escort with the same dent and sticker driving near the Lodato home, it is not a crime to be in the city of Alexandria.   

The Commonwealth said Severance is caught on 2003 video tape stalking Nancy Dunning moments before her murder, but the defense showed parts of video where no one is following her, saying the man is not Severance.  

Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter insists it is Severance and concluded, in a lengthy rebuttal, "All of the evidence points to one person only, the defendant."

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