Smith Clarifies State’s Case

WHEELING – Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith on Friday submitted his response to a writ of habeas corpus application filed Monday by Chief Public Defender Shayne Welling in the Charles Severance extradition case.

Circuit Judge James Mazzone ordered Welling to file his motion by April 14 and Smith respond by Monday. A final extradition hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Smith’s 14-page response, accompanied by 17 pages of documentation, spells out the state’s case to extradite Severance.

Wheeling police arrested Severance on March 13 at the Ohio County Public Library as a fugitive from Loudoun County, Va., where he was wanted on the firearms charge.

Welling has continued to question the validity of the arrest warrant because it says Severance is wanted for a felon in possession of a firearm charge in Loudoun County, and he alleges Virginia authorities instead want Severance in connection with three murders in Alexandria.

Welling has argued Severance was not a wanted man when he left Virginia because a warrant did not exist at the time.

He said Wheeling police detained Severance for nearly nine hours before serving the extradition warrant in an attempt to give Virginia authorities time to travel to Wheeling to question him in connection with the murders.

In his response, Smith said the state shows that Severance is a fugitive and charges are pending in Virginia relative to the gun violation.

Smith said he has documentation to clarify Welling’s attempts to introduce confusion in the case by suggesting that multiple versions of the felon in possession warrant at issue exist. He also argues the extradition paper work is in proper form.

Smith said Welling’s contention that the paper work is not in order is a “red herring” and that it is a narrow challenge.

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.