Virginia Warrant Arrives

WHEELING – The process to have Charles Severance returned to Virginia to face a felon in possession of a firearm charge continued Wednesday when he was served with a governor’s extradition warrant at the Ohio County sheriff’s office.

Prosecutor Scott Smith said the warrant is based on a gun charge out of Loudoun County.

Chief Public Defender Shayne Welling now has seven days to file a writ of habeas corpus outlining his objections of the validity of the action, and then Smith will have seven days to respond. A status hearing is set for 10 a.m. Monday before Circuit Judge James Mazzone.

Wheeling police arrested Severance, 53, of Alexandria, Va., on March 13 at the Ohio County Public Library in response to a tip from the Federal Bureau of Investigation alleging he was wanted on a fugitive warrant out of Virginia for a firearms violation.

He remains in the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond.

On March 17, Mazzone rejected Smith’s motion asking for Severance to be held without bond after Smith said Severance is being investigated by Alexandria authorities regarding three deaths in 2003, 2013 and February of this year. Smith said photos of Severance at the gate of the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. with a passport in this hand suggested he was a flight risk, and the fact that two guns tied to the case remain unaccounted for makes him a danger to society.

However, Mazzone reversed that decision two days later and returned bond to the original $100,000 cash amount during a hearing at which Smith failed to provide evidence or witnesses to corroborate his stance.

Welling has maintained the bond amount is excessive and the entire proceeding is pretextual because police picked up Severance on a “sham arrest” designed to give Virginia authorities time to further their investigation into whether he is involved in the three deaths.