VIRGINIA

Public defender argues Severance is being held illegally in West Va.

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WHEELING, W.Va. (AP/WJLA) - A public defender in West Virginia says a northern Virginia man sought for questioning in three slayings is being held illegally. Wheeling police arrested Charles Severance on March 13 on a warrant related to a firearms charge in Virginia's Loudoun County.

In a court filing earlier this week, Severance's attorney, Shane Welling, argued that he couldn’t be a fugitive, because he left before the warrant was issued and had no idea he was even wanted. But according to court documents, the West Virginia prosecutor fired back, saying that state’s law “requires neither conscious flight to avoid arrest, nor the existence of a warrant."

From the beginning, Severance’s attorney has also argued that the gun charges were really designed to buy investigators time to try and link Severance to the three unsolved Alexandria murders of Dunning, Kirby, and Lodato.

In court documents this week, Welling called the charges a “sham.” But prosecutors are countering that the gun charges are legitimate.

In an affidavit, Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney James Plowman said: "In my opinion, I have enough evidence to secure the conviction."

Police in Alexandria, Va., have said they want to talk to Severance about three unsolved killings. He has not been charged in the slayings.

Welling asked a judge to direct Virginia authorities to appear before the court.

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