About 35 former prosecutors, law enforcement officers and judges are calling on the state of Virginia to drop its appeals case to have a capital murder conviction against Justin Michael Wolfe reinstated, according to a Virginia Lawyer's Weekly blog post.
Wolfe, of Chantilly, has been on death row since 2002 after he was convicted and sentenced in Prince William County for ordering the murder of his marijuana dealer, Daniel Robert Petrole Jr. at his home in Bristow, Va. The prosecution's key witness, triggerman Owen Merton Barber lV testified against Wolfe at trial, but told the Eastern District Court of Virginia in November 2010 .
U.S. District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson , including the murder-for-hire charge, in July of 2011 on the grounds that that would have been favorable to Wolfe's defense.
The state is appealing the ruling to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to have the conviction and death sentence against Wolfe reinstated. A hearing is set for May 17.
But a recent friend-of-the-court brief (amici brief) published by a group of former officials says prosecutors suppressed evidence that would have impeached Barber's testimony in court, including an original testimony by Barber in which he admitted to investigating officers that he acted alone and that police presented him with an informal deal to avoid the death penalty by testifying against Wolfe.