After losing custody of his infant son Levi, he deteriorated into hate of government and public officials. His writings glorify violence and revenge killings.
Prosecution is detailing the death of Ruthanne Lodato. She was shot twice, once in the arm and once in the chest, piercing the heart. The shot to the arm would not have killed her had it been the only injury. Says that its rare for a victim to die of a gunshot from a .22-caliber handgun.
Prosecution giving more details about the bullets used: .22 long rifle, low velocity, plain lead, hallow point bullets made by Remington. They plan to call an expert from Remington to talk about its .22 ammunition. The hallow point bullets expand upon impact, causing more damage.
A neighbor saw a man with white hair and beard, with a distinctive shuffle/walk who seemed out of place while walking her dog in the week to 10 days before Lodato's death. She recognized him as the same man as the man depicted in the suspect sketch police released after Lodato's killing.
investigators pulled surveillance images of a Red 1994 Ford wagon from a private home on Braddock Road, near the Lodato home. Police believe that was Severance driving the car. Plan to prove its the same car as Severance because a dent is visible on the rear of the car. The license plate is not visible.
Prosecution says that Severance's girlfriend Linda Robra was working as a substitute teacher in Loudoun County on the same days that Ron Kirby and Ruthanne Lodato were killed and on the days a neighbor saw the man matching Severance's appearance walking near the Lodato home. Prosecution argues that she wasn't home to know where her boyfriend was on those days.
Prosecution says that after detectives stopped by Robra's home looking for Severance, he instead went to the Russian Embassy seeking asylum. He was dressed in a tricorn hat. Images of Severance standing in front of the embassy have been released previously.
Prosecution: Kirby's son found him inside the front door. It was too late for paramedics to help. He was shot five times with the same ammunition used in Lodato's death. Kirby was working from home that day waiting for a plumber to come in and fix a sink. The plumber called twice on his way there. When he arrived no on answered the door or the phone. He left. A block away he saw man who appeared similar to Severance
Prosecution shows to images of Severance from the late 1990s. One from a mayoral debate. Dark brown hair with a sharp widows peak, wearing a black leather jacket. Prosecution that jacket in the photos is similar to a black leather jacket found on Severance
Nancy Dunning was also killed with the same ammunition as Kirby and Lodato.
.22 long rifle ammo is rare in criminal cases. But this specific type of ammo is even more rare. Remington will say its only been used three times: the three Alexandria homicides Severance is charged with
Prosecution says Severance bought a mini revolver in 2003. A similar gun was likely used to kill all three victims. He convinced Linda Robra to buy two mini revolvers a decade later.
During opening statements, the prosecution has read from several of Severance's writing. Words like murder, tomahawking and vengeance are commonly repeated.
Wraps up by quoting Severance's writing: "Knock. Talk. Enter. Kill. Exit."
15 minute break then its the defense's turn to address the jury.
The defense begins by pointing out the lack of evidence and the lack of DNA.
The defense says that repeated phrases in Severance's writings like "tomahawking a homestead" and "best interests of the child" don't always mean what the prosecution says they mean.
The defense also says that Severance was known to have a long, busy beard in 2013 and 2014 and made not effort to change his appearance. The sketch drawn from the description of witness and victim Dorcas Franco shows a man with a close-cropped beard.
Defense: There is much more to Severance's writing than just anger.
Defense attorney Joe King is reading a passage about Severance's son Levite, memories of his young son. He lost his parental rights in 2001.
Severance believed that he was being persecuted by the City of Alexandria.
Defense says as Severance entered adulthood he suffered from bouts of eccentric and bizarre behavior with paranoid tendencies.
A clinical psychologist will testify that Severance suffers from a mental disorder with "paranoid components." When an Alexandria detective stopped by Linda Robra's home in Ashburn to speak with Severance it should not be surprising that Severance didn't want to talk with police. He may have acted erratically by going to the Russian Embassy, but not surprising given his mental history and his belief that he was being persecuted by Alexandria.
King says that Severance was fascinated by American history and enjoyed researching and visiting historical site in what he refers to as the early frontier: Western Maryland, northern West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. His writing make references to French and Indian War-era politics as well as skirmishes between the U.S. Army and native tribes, the Whiskey Rebellion and more.
Defense attorney Joe King says Severance went to Wheeling, West Virginia in the spring 2014, not to flee prosecution, but for a historical research trip.
King: There's never a mention of Miss Dunning, Kirby or Miss Lodato.
Defense: The development of historical games like Mental Disorder and Tomahawking a Homestead were a big part of Severance's life. They make up a big part of his writings.
Defense: The Target video is a red herring. Its a coincidence the man walked out at the same time as Nancy Dunning. And multiple witnesses will testify that is not Severance in the video. Moreover, a black leather jacket is not a rare thing.
Defense moves on to the ammunition: The type of ammo used in the three killings is mass-produced and can be purchased nationwide and is sold by Wal-Mart. Lots of people like these bullets. More than a billion have been produced since the late 1990s. The 40 bullets found in Severance's parent's basement are a "grain of sand on a beach."
Defense also argues that millions of guns could have used the ammo used in the three killings.
Defense: If he was fleeing why would he travel just 5 hours away in three days? He was kicked out of his girlfriend's house, so he leaves. Visits a friend in Cumberland, Maryland, then headed to Wheeling - a place that he loved.