Skip to comments.Lee family hires PR firm to help in custody fight
Posted on 08/08/2005 6:06:35 AM PDT by robowombat
Lee family hires PR firm to help in custody fight Thursday, August 04, 2005 - Bangor Daily News
Editor's Note: BDN reporter Nick Sambides Jr. and photographer Kevin Bennett were on assignment in San Angelo, Texas, preparing an in-depth report on the events surrounding the killing of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Severance, 24, of Lee. The BDN will notify readers when their series will be published.
The effort to keep a Texas murder victim's infant son in Maine has gone from grass roots to Maine's answer to Madison Avenue with the involvement of Dennis Bailey and his Savvy Inc. public relations firm.
Savvy Inc. of Portland on Wednesday launched a Web site, keepshaneinmaine.com, for Les Severance of Lee and his Texas attorney, Thomas Goff of San Angelo, that is expected to raise money for itself and for the legal expenses associated with Severance's battle to retain custody of his grandson, Shane Michael Severance.
A former spokesman for Gov. Angus King who took a controversial anti-casino role in the battle to put slot machines in southern Maine, Bailey is known as a bulldog who gets involved in controversy, politics and big money.
CasinosNO!, Gov. John Baldacci's campaign, the National Soft Drink Association and The Jackson Laboratory are among his past or present clients, but he said he also enjoys smaller grass-roots efforts, such as the Severance case.
"We know that Maine people know about the case, and we feel like everybody else does, that Shane deserves a chance to grow up here in Maine," Bailey said Wednesday. "I don't think anybody who heard the news could help but be affected by it, especially if you have a kid. It hits home pretty hard."
Shane's father, Lee native Michael Leslie Severance, 24, disappeared Jan. 15 from his home in Texas, where he was serving as an Air Force staff sergeant. A grand jury indicted his wife, veterinarian Wendi Mae Davidson of San Angelo, in late March on two counts of tampering with evidence and a single murder charge.
The grand jury charged that she poisoned her husband with drugs used to euthanize animals, stabbed his 155-pound body 41 times, weighted it with 145 pounds and dumped it in a ranch pond owned by Davidson family friend Terrell Sheen on Jan. 15.
Davidson, 27, of San Angelo denied murdering Severance, allegedly telling her brother, a Texas game warden, that she found Severance dead in bed and dumped his body out of fear that her family had killed him.
She is free on $50,000 bail with the trial set to begin in spring 2006. An initial pretrial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 10, and a final hearing is set for March 7. Jury selection is scheduled to begin March 20.
Although Les Severance won 60-day custody of Shane on June 25 and Wendi Davidson was denied custody except for weekly supervised visits, Severance has more court battles ahead, Goff said Wednesday.
A Lincoln millworker, Severance, 47, will be in San Angelo on Aug. 19 for a hearing. He and Wendi's parents, Judi and Lloyd Davidson, are due to discuss their shared custody arrangement of Shane once the 11-month-old is returned to San Angelo on Aug. 23.
Donations made through the Web site will help pay for Goff's expenses, which he said he hoped would not exceed $50,000. Bailey said his firm would take 10 percent of the site's proceeds to cover expenses. Both fees are far below their normal charges, they said.
"I have an incredible amount of time in on this case," Goff said. "I am going to have to do what has to be done regardless, but there are still costs that have to be paid. It's not easy to conduct a case from 2,000 miles away."
Goff met Bailey in Portland during a visit with the Severances last month.
"He is a true professional, highly recommended," Goff said.
And Bailey likes the case, he said.
"I think people feel bad for Shane and for the Severance family," Bailey said. "I think it's a natural reaction of Maine people to say, what can I do to help?"
The Web site will help people from other states, such as Michael Severance's Texas friends and acquaintances or Massachusetts relatives, to stay in touch with case developments, Goff said.
Some background on this case:
Vigil to be held tonight in Lee for slain husband
Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - Bangor Daily News
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LEE - Family and friends of murder victim Michael Leslie Severance will meet tonight at Lee Academy to celebrate what would have been his 25th birthday.
The candlelight vigil will occur on the academy's front lawn at 8 p.m., Michael's brother, Frank Severance, said. As many as 100 people are expected. The public is invited.
"This will help us to remember Mike on his birthday," Severance said Tuesday, "to remember him for who he was. We'll remember all the good times and take a moment to reflect."
The vigil is part of "Keep Shane in Maine Day," an effort by Severance's stepsister, Nicole Leighton, and her friends to raise money to pay legal fees and travel expenses incurred by Leslie Severance in his Texas civil court fight to attain custody of his grandson, 10-month-old Shane Michael Severance, the son of Michael Severance.
As part of that effort, the Maine for Shane Committee is asking businesses or individuals to contribute $5 for or from their employees to the "Keep Shane in Maine Fund," c/o Key Bank, 57 W. Broadway, Lincoln, 04457.
"We're just trying to get everyone involved to help us with expenses," Leighton said. "The expenses are going to be pretty bad."
On June 24, a San Angelo, Texas, civil court awarded Leslie Severance 60-day custody of Shane and appointed him the boy's joint managing conservator. The ruling restricted Shane's mother, murder suspect Wendi Mae Davidson, to two-hour, weekly, court-supervised visits.
On March 5, San Angelo police charged her with fatally poisoning Michael Severance, stabbing his body 41 times and dumping it into a San Angelo pond owned by Davidson family friend Terrell Sheen.
The body of the Air Force staff sergeant, who was posted at Abilene's Dyess Air Force Base, was found March 6.
Davidson is free on $50,000 bail. Her trial is due to begin next spring. Her attorney, Tom Davidson - no relation - has said that she will plead innocent and that she has passed a lie detector test indicating that she didn't kill Severance.
Leslie Severance is grateful for the support he has received.
Several local businesses have hung "Welcome Home Shane" signs. People stop Severance to congratulate him on his efforts or offer condolences.
"I have never asked anyone for anything, and I don't feel bad about it now because the community is behind me 100 percent," said Severance, a lead shipper at Lincoln Paper and Tissue in Lincoln. "People have been wonderful."
Very strange story.
What a strange sad, story..
Why the HELL is that woman out on bail??!!
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