WHEELING - Chief Public Defender Shayne Welling continues to insist Charles Severance is being held in West Virginia for extradition back to Virginia under a bogus warrant that is illegal and amounts to abuse of police powers and the extradition process.
In a 29-page writ of habeas corpus - accompanied by 28 pages of support documents - filed Monday in Circuit Court, Welling asked Judge James Mazzone to release Severance from custody because Virginia authorities want him in connection with three Alexandria murders rather than for a felon in possession of a firearm charge as shown in the warrant.
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.
"There is a distinction between extraditing the respondent for a proper purpose versus an improper purpose," Welling wrote. "This court is the guardian of that distinction."
Welling said the extradition process is being abused if the purpose for extradition is to investigate other matters than those stated in the Virginia governor's warrant.
"The Commonwealth should be directed to file charges they deem appropriate and then seek extradition on the charges for which the respondent is actually being sought," he wrote. "West Virginia must avoid colluding with the Commonwealth on such an obvious sham arrest."
Welling asked Mazzone to direct Virginia authorities to appear before the court to show cause that Severance is being held to answer the charges from Virginia.
He also asked that after a hearing on the matter, Mazzone declare Severance is not a fugitive out of Virginia, the extradition papers are not in the proper form, that no case for non-violent felon in possession is presently pending against Severance in Loudoun County and that Severance has been illegally detained on an improper fugitive warrant issued by Virginia as a pretext to investigate the unrelated homicides.
An affidavit from Tammy Hummer Dinterman, clerk of the General District Court of Loudoun County, affirms there are no charges pending against Severance and there are no files related to the case.
"The Loudoun County General District Court does not have a file for a felon in possession charge against Mr. Severance," the document states. "And, accordingly, does not have an arrest warrant and criminal complaint of a felon in possession of a firearm charge concerning Charles Severance."
Welling said Wheeling police took Severance into custody at 12:11p.m., but did not serve the warrant until eight hours later at 10:39 p.m. In the meantime, according to Welling's motion, three detectives from the Alexandria Police Department and FBI agents arrived to question Severance about the homicides.
He said the only logical reason for the time lapse from time of arrest and service of the warrant is that, "Wheeling police learned that Alexandria authorities were on their way from Virginia and desired to speak with the respondent on an unrelated matter."
The document states FBI from Washington later came to Wheeling, presumably for the same purpose. Welling said the detainment, as well as the arrest is a violation of both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the West Virginia constitution.
Prosecutor Scott Smith must file his response to Welling's motion by Monday. A final hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.