CRIME

Charles Severance bond set back to $100,000

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(WTOV/WJLA) -- At a hearing Wednesday, a West Virginia judge denied chief public defender Shayne Welling's request to modify the bond for Charles Severance, which stands at $100,000.

Severance was arrested in Wheeling, W.Va. last Thursday on weapons charges out of Loudoun County, Va. However, many speculate that he could be connected to three recent murders in Alexandria -- most recently, the shooting of beloved music teacher Ruthanne Lodato just a few months ago.

Though Alexandria police have said they intend to investigate the lead, they refuse to officially declare Severance a person of interest in the case.

Welling says the treatment of his client is outrageous.

Welling says police arrested Severance shortly after noon last Thursday "for unknown reasons" -- but that authorities did not officially serve Severance with the warrant until 10 hours later, at 10:08 p.m.

Welling says the court "must begin its inquiry into the state's passion-laced motion" by determining whether the case being heard in Ohio County deals with a fugitive from justice being held on a non-violent possession charge -- or whether the warrant is being used instead to detain Severance in order to investigate the deaths.

Welling states in his motion that Severance should only face extradition for the low-level Class Six felony -- and that the bond should reflect that.

"While abusing authority may be appropriate in the Commonwealth, West Virginia does not sanction the abuse of police powers," Welling wrote.

"The use of the arrest power as a sham to apprehend a person for purposes for further investigation on another charge is so dangerous an intrusion of privacy as to require exclusion of any evidence seized as an incident of such pretextual arrest."

Welling also addressed prosecutor Scott Smith's Monday interviews, where he identified Severance as a suspect in the Virginia murders, pointing out that Alexandria police have said it's premature to name him as the only possible suspect in the three deaths, which are all believed to be linked based on ballistics evidence.

"This position by a West Virginia prosecutor appears inconsistent with the position of Virginia authorities," Welling writes.

The next extradition hearing for Severance is scheduled for March 31.

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