If you don’t live in my area, you don’t know who Charles Severance is. But in Alexandria, Virginia, he’s notorious as the man charged with three murders in my town over the last couple of years. Just five miles south of the White House, Alexandria is the southern hub of the Acela corridor, a very rich and highly educated town of 130,000 people, the hometown of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. It’s also the home of a serial killer.
Alexandria is a highly liberal town that went 71 percent for Obama in 2012. City council is a collection of trendy, no-enemies-on-the-left, very minor league politicos, and our dysfunctional city hall is staffed with an ambitious mayor’s cronies. But then why should my town be any different from a score of liberal cities in America?
Which brings me to Severance. He was arrested shortly after the last murder 18 months ago, on a trumped-up gun charge. The spate of murders was highly embarrassing to the Mayor, whom many think more concerned about making nice to developers and local left-wing interest groups than about the basic concerns of citizens. Like keeping us safe. He was extremely embarrassed by the murders, especially the third, because it was business as usual before then. I can well imagine the enormous pressure exerted on the Chief of Police to charge someone—anyone—with the murders. Which put Severance in jail.
I don’t know Severance. He’s been portrayed in the press as a not-entirely-with-it, right-wing nut. He doesn’t like elected officials and he lost a child custody case. That’s about all we know. Of evidence linking him to any of the murders, we remain ignorant.
Perhaps it will all come out at trial. But there’s another possible ending to this. A quick acquittal for lack of evidence, and a speech from a pompous mayor about his efforts to protect us. If that happens, it’ll tell us what we already know, that justice is political.
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