Wolfe Trial Pushed to January

Prince William County prosecutors have been subpoenaed to explain why they met with the admitted triggerman in the case last month.

A hearing to discern why Prince William County prosecutors and others met with the admitted triggerman in a murder-for-hire case was delayed Tuesday as a former death row inmate prepares to be tried for a second time in the case.

Owen Merton Barber IV pleaded guilty more than a decade ago to gunning down Daniel Robert Petrole Jr. in Bristow. Attorneys representing Justin Michael Wolfe—the man whose conviction for Petrole’s murder was overturned in federal court—want to know why Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert and others met with Barber on Sept. 11. The hearing was delayed until Oct. 31. 

During Tuesday's hearing, Prince William County Circuit Court Judge Mary Grace O’Brien also set a Jan. 2 start date for Wolfe’s new trial, with the entire month of January set aside. 

While Wolfe’s conviction was overturned — he had been on Virginia’s death row for a decade — prosecutors plan to try him again in Petrole’s murder. Barber testified against Wolfe, but has since stated in federal court that Wolfe was not involved in the crime.

Ebert, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Richard Conway and several others were subpoenaed to learn what was discussed during the Sept. 11 meeting, and whether it violated any procedures, laws or Wolfe’s rights. An attorney for Ebert succeeded in quashing his subpoena, but only for Tuesday's hearing. Everyone subpoenaed by the defense will be expected to appear Oct. 31.

Wolfe has always denied involvement in Petrole’s murder. Documents presented in federal court and Barber’s court testimony indicate that a detective first gave Wolfe’s name to Barber. Barber said prosecutors and his own attorney then forced him to testify against Wolfe or face the death penalty. A federal judge called the prosecutors actions in the case “abhorrent to the judicial process.”

Earlier this year, the Commonwealth of Virginia declined to appeal the federal rulings that overturned Wolfe’s convictions on murder-for-hire and drug distribution. But the Prince William prosecutors’ office decided to pursue a fresh case against Wolfe, with new charges. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to pursue the death penalty.

Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Ray Morrogh has been assigned as a special prosecutor for the case. Wolfe’s attorneys have questioned Morrogh’s ability to try to the case because of his friendship with Ebert. That issue will be heard Oct. 31 along with the inquiry into the Sept. 11 meeting with Barber.

More on the case: 

Justin Wolfe Held Without Bail Until Retrial

State Will Not Appeal Justin Wolfe Death Penalty Case

Fourth Circuit Critical of Prosecutors in Wolfe Case

Fourth Circuit Affirms Vacation of Wolfe Death Sentence

Zeivah October 10, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Sabrina - First off - Justin Wolfe did NOT PULL the Trigger..... Did you know that? Owen Junior pumped 21 bullets into Daniel Petrole. That means he shot the gun - and the gun went off - 21 times. Point blank he shot the victim and let him die. This was the idiot the Prince William prosecutors allowed to cut a deal. They believed Owen Junior's story - the story of someone who shot the victim. They were wrong but apparently they do not want to admit that a crime making national news and the subject of a CBS 48 Hours news segment - because they will get a black eye on their record. Just the fact we now are finding out that they met with Owen Barber Jr - makes me VERY suspicious......also you are not texting - so please refrain from using text lingo in the real world
sylvia uk October 10, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Sabrina a federal judge threw out the charges and overturned justins death sentence as justin is innocent. These further charges are politically motivated to save face and the arses of their careers... you really should do your research before writing such ill informed uneducated shit. Peace
April Matherly October 10, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Sabrina obviously u haven't been keeping up with this story for the past 10 years, and how old are you freakn 12? Ok now I really don't think the tax payers should have to pay for yet another trial for an INNOCENT man! The fact remains Justin DID NOT pull the trigger! So come on wake up and FREE AN INNOCENT MAN FOR HEAVENS SAKE!!!
Virginia Law November 16, 2012 at 03:51 AM
He isn't alone - http://www.kcsb.org/interviews/west-of-memphis-interview - When you hear Domion Echols story - from what I can tell not much difference then James Wolfe - We should all be concerned about this - This to can happen to you or a loved one - I am living it - not on Death Row - but, the Old Boy Network is powerful - If you aren't one of them - Watch your Back - for you and your family - The State of Virginia rules on Favoritism and Cronyism instead of the the Law and Rules of the Supreme Court - http://valaw2010.blogspot.com/ http://www.scribd.com/VirginiaLaw http://judicialslavery.com/ https://www.facebook.com/valaw2010
HAILEY December 12, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I know all three of the people involved in this case (Owen, Justin, poor Danny, and many others that testified) and I can tell you he is guilty as sin. Just because he has a bulldog mom (which I commend and would do the same thing), doesn't mean he's not guilty. People that knew these people and things that aren't "admissible" know that Justin absolutely did what he has been charged with. Because he didn't pull the trigger, I don't agree with the death penalty, but you do the crime you do the time. This is capital murder no doubt about it. I don’t think he understood the gravity of his actions. All of them were living in a fantasy world but made real world decisions. I hope he does not get away with this. He knows what he did and it's a terrible message to send to young people that know him. And you know I haven't heard much about Danny. All the focus is on Justin, someone who hired someone else to murder an amazing young man. People may judge Danny for the drugs but if you didn’t know him you shouldn’t judge, because he was a great guy with a bright future.


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