Victims' families relieved
Outside the Fairfax County Courthouse the Dunning, Lodato and Kirby families spoke briefly Monday afternoon.
Norm Lodato thanked the hospital staff who tried to save his wife, the police who investigated her case, the team of prosecutors and the jury.
He thanked jurors for their "time, attention and service that befitted the three beautiful souls who were taken from our families."
"While Ruthanne's absence in our lives is an unfillable void, this verdict provides more strength to our family to continue our lives in a manner that would make her proud," he said.
Marilyn Kirby said that now the families can start to mourn.
Elizabeth Dunning, Nancy Dunning's daughter, voice cracked as she took to the microphone, noting 11 years, 10 months and 28 days have passed since "our mom was brutally murdered by Charles Severance. We had long ago lost hope that justice would ever come."
She said she and her brother would mourn the loss of their amazing, funny mom daily. They found "tremendous" relief with the jury's verdict but wished their father, the former city Sheriff Jim Dunning, could have lived to see his wife's killer convicted.
"Our next steps are just to live in the world with the knowledge that justice has been done," Elizabeth Dunning said.
A decision not to seek the death penalty
Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter said Monday that he considered seeking the death penalty for now-convicted killer Charles Severance.
Instead he sought a life sentence, saying he didn't think he could obtain a conviction if the death penalty was on the table due to Severance's mental health struggles.
Severance had been previously diagnosed with schizophrenia, which was largely left untreated, and he would not let a doctor examine him as part of his legal defense. He did not use insanity as a defense however his attorneys tried to convince jurors that his bizarre and rambling writings portray on a man struggling with mental illness, not the confessions of a killer.
Porter called Severance's personal writings a manifesto of hate that spelled out his motive, his weapons and bullet of choice and the methods used in the three slayings.
Porter said the writings were too much for the defense to simply "explain away."
"At no point in this case did I ever think that Charles Severance was legally incompetent to stand trial or legally insane at the time of the offense," Porter said.
He said spending the rest of his life in prison will be difficult for Severance.
Jury: 3 life sentences
No mercy for a 'monster'
Prosecutors asked jurors to offer no mercy to Severance as they contemplate his prison sentence.
"He showed no mercy. There's no remorse," said attorney James Entas of Severance, who delivered "chaos and terror to the city of Alexandria."
He told jurors that it was fitting they deliberated over Halloween weekend. "You have delivered justice to a monster."
Severance's defense team offered no witnesses to counter the tearful statements of the three victims' families.
Defense attorney Chris Leibig acknowledge that grief in his statements. But he blamed t he murders on Severance's documented but largely untreated schizophrenia.
After his illness was initially diagnosed, his family tried to get him the mental health care he needed.
"They did what they could. it just didn't work," Leibig said.
Dunning was a 'rock'
Nancy Dunning's family, minus her husband who died in 2013, told the jury that more than a decade later, there is no way to quantify the loss and grief. .
"We miss her more than I could say," her daughter Elizabeth Dunning said.
She asked the jury to imagine her telling her young children about how their grandmother died. When that day comes, she wants to know that the man responsible will be behind bars, where he can no longer hurt anyone.
Dunning was a realtor and her husband Jim Dunning was the city's sheriff at the time she was killed. her husband and son found her after she was late meeting them for lunch.
"She was my rock," her sister Patty Moran said. "I am mad and sad."
Ron Kirby's former wife of 23 years Molly Kirby thanked the jury for their guilty verdict.
Together the couple adopted and raised two children and remained close after divorcing.
Kirby's wife Anne Haynes called him the love of her life and wanted jurors to see a photo of the pair together just after Kirby gave Haynes a bouquet of flowers. The color image was circulated among the jurors.
"He was part of who I was and I will never be the same. I am truly lost without him," she said.
His daughter Marilyn Kirby cried as she told the jury of the hole in her heart and spirit.
Victim's family speaks: We are far from all right
During the sentencing phase of the trial member of the Lodato family testified about the music teacher and lifelong Alexandria resident.
Her husband Norm spoke about the loss of his wife of 36 years. They met in elementary school.
"My wife's work was music and joy, not this horror," Norm Lodato said. "Ruthanne was a force that can never be replaced or forgotten."
But they won't get to grow old together, daughter Lucia Lodato said. The 32-year-old also spoke about being pregnant with what would have been Lodato's first grandchild.
"She was far from finished being my mom," she said. "She was my sounding board, my role model."
Lodato's younger brother Greg Giammittorio told jurors that "We are far from all right."
WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this report from Fairfax, Virginia, and Amanda Iacone reported from Washington.
Nancy Dunning, 56, was found dead in her Alexandria home on Dec. 5, 2013. (Alexandria Police Dept.)
A photo from Ron Kirby and Anne Gray Haynes' wedding album. He was shot and killed at the front door of his home on Nov. 11, 203. He was 69. (WTOP File Photo/Megan Cloherty)
Ruthanne Lodato, 59, was shot at her front door on Feb. 6, 2014. She died later that day. (Courtesy Lodato family)
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