Judge Mazzone Sets Final Extradition Hearing

As legal wrangling between Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith and Chief Public Defender Shayne Welling over the extradition of Charles Severance continues, Circuit Judge James Mazzone has set a date for the final showdown.

On Tuesday, Mazzone issued an order setting a final hearing for 9:30 a.m. April 23.

Mazzone’s order also addressed a motion filed Friday by Welling asking the court to give him until April 24 to prepare his writ of habeas corpus contesting the extradition.

Mazzone set April 14 as Welling’s deadline and April 21 for Smith’s response.

While Mazzone did not give Welling the time he had asked for, he did extend the statutory seven days from the time the warrant was served because Welling has military reserve obligations scheduled that limit his preparation time.

Both sides have been arguing the case since Wheeling police arrested Severance on March 13 at the Ohio County Public Library as a fugitive out of Loudoun County, Virginia, wanted on a felon in possession of a firearm charge. During the first hearing on the matter, Welling made it clear he intended to challenge the legality of Severance’s arrest because the warrant was for the firearm charge, while Smith and Virginia authorities told media outlets Severance is wanted in connection with three homicides in Alexandria, Va.

Through motions and responses filed with the court, Welling appears to be attacking at least one of the four elements required for extradition.

Smith contends the procedures are correct.

West Virginia Judiciary Rules of Criminal Procedures stipulate Mazzone can only consider whether the extradition papers are in order; if there are criminal charges pending against Severance in Virginia; whether Severance was in Virginia at the time of the alleged offense; and whether Severance is identified as the person named in the extradition papers.

In his motion for more time to prepare, Welling cited a lack of cooperation in providing discovering information by the Wheeling Police Department, Loudoun County authorities, an Alexandria detective and officials of The Wheeling Inn, where Severance had been staying before being arrested.

Welling said he received an affidavit from a Loudoun County on Friday that may call into question the basis upon which Virginia Governor Terry McCauliffe’s warrant was issued.

Smith filed a motion asking the court to deny Welling’s subpoena requesting Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger be brought before the court with certain documents outlining details of the initial warrant used to arrest Severance at the library.

“Counsel first tried to obtain the documents and information … by sending a Freedom of Information Act request to the City of Wheeling, and is now trying to obtain the documents and information by way of the instant subpoena,” Smith’s motion states.

Mazzone’s order said Welling is allowed the challenge the legality of Severance’s arrest.

“Accordingly, information concerning the circumstances of said arrest is discoverable, unless privileged,” Mazzone wrote.

“(Smith) may, however, reassert … objection as to any such information (Welling) seeks to utilize at the final hearing.”