Severance to stay in West Virginia during appeal

WHEELING – Ohio County Circuit Judge James Mazzone on Wednesday ordered Charles Severance be extradited back to Virginia to face a felon in possession of a firearm charge – and then granted a stay of extradition to give Chief Public Defender Shayne Welling time to file an appeal with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Mazzone’s decision to extradite Severance came in a morning hearing when he granted Welling one hour to discuss an appeal with his client before having Severance turned over to authorities for his return to Virginia. The stay of extradition decision came when the court reconvened a little more than an hour later, when Mazzone gave Welling until April 30 to file his intention to appeal to the higher court.

Mazzone said he had little choice other than to grant the stay because once Severance is removed from the state, the appeal would become a moot point.

After the hearing, Welling said his notice of intent to appeal will ask the high court to stay the extradition and grant the statutory 30 days to file an appeal. If the court decides to hear the case, final disposition may not come for several months.

In the meantime, at the request of Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith, Severance will be held without bond at the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville.

Wheeling Police arrested Severance on March 13 at the Ohio County Public Library as a fugitive out of Loudoun County, Va., wanted on the firearms charge. Welling and Smith since have filed multiple motions in the case.

Welling has argued that Severance’s arrest in Wheeling was pretextual as a means to allow Alexandria, Va., authorities time to build their case against Severance for the murders of three people in that city. Smith contended the arrest was valid and Severance should be sent back to answer the gun charges.

During the Wednesday morning hearing, Severance sat upright in his chair with his arms at his side and eyes staring straight ahead. His parents sat behind him several rows back in the gallery. The parents, whose names were not available, later resisted a rush of reporters seeking comment. Smith escorted them out of the building away from reporters.

Assistant Public Defender Meagan Kircher called Wheeling Knights Inn Manager Anand Patel to the witness stand to establish that Severance was in Wheeling hours before a warrant for his arrest was issued in Loudoun County, Va.

It was part of the defense argument that Severance was not a fugitive from justice and that his arrest in Wheeling was sham and pretext to get Severance into police custody so Alexandria authorities could grow their murder case against him. Smith held that the defense did not meet its burden to show cause to deny the extradition.

Smith said the case met a four-point requirement that the defendant was in the requesting state at the time of the crime, that a crime occurred, that Severance is identified as the man named in the warrant and that the extradition paper work was in order.

In the end, Mazzone agreed with Smith and denied Welling’s request to release Severance from custody and grant him asylum in West Virginia.