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Justin Wolfe Held Without Bail Until Retrial

On Oct. 15th, former death row inmate Justin Wolfe will go back on trial for allegedly ordering the murder of Daniel Petrole, Jr.

A Prince William County Circuit Court judge denied bail for former death row inmate Justin Wolfe, who will stand trial again this October for allegedly ordering the murder of his drug supplier, Daniel Petrole Jr., of Centreville, in 2001.

Wolfe’s and is scheduled to last for three weeks.

The Chantilly man’s previous conviction was due to what a federal judge described as prosecutorial misconduct—but special prosecutor Raymond Morrogh indicated to Judge Mary Grace O’Brien the state has enough evidence to convict.

Morrogh, the commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County, , after Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Conway recused themselves due to conflict of interest.  

As Wolfe’s family sat in the courtroom with anxious faces and arms linked, Wolfe’s defense attorney Matthew Engle, from the Innocence Project, delivered a passionate argument for immediate release.

“Reinvestigation will take some time,” Engle said. “Mr. Wolfe has already served 11 years for a crime he didn’t commit.”

Engle said the packed courtroom was evidence Wolfe had strong community ties and would not run away before the trial. Before the hearing began, the bailiff had to turn away people because there were not enough seats. Engle said Wolfe’s stepfather, Ben Steinberg, owned a small business and would employ him to work from home.

“Mr. Wolfe is not interested in fleeing prosecution,” Engle said. “Mr. Wolfe is interested in clearing his name entirely.”

Morrogh argued bail was not appropriate for a capital murder case. He further argued Wolfe’s previous lifestyle—he allegedly sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of drugs—showed he was a flight risk.

“His testimony, the testimony of other witnesses, and the police reports—it seems to me that this defendant was absolutely involved in this murder. He planned it and caused it to occur. He did it out of greed,” Morrogh said. “Justin Wolfe is many things, but innocent is not one of them.”

The burden will be on Morrogh to prove that, as Wolfe's innocence is now presumed. Last July, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson reprimanded both Ebert and Conway for withholding crucial evidence from the defense. In August, a federal appeals court upheld Jackson’s decision to vacate Wolfe's convictions.

“Essentially, in an effort to ensure that no defense would be ‘fabricated,’ Ebert and Conway’s actions served to deprive Wolfe of any substantive defense in a case where his life would rest on the jury’s verdict,” .

Owen Merton Barber IV admitted to killing Petrole in 2001. His testimony against Wolfe was critical in the 2002 trial.

O’Brien, the Circuit Court judge, said her decision to hold Wolfe was not easy, given the circumstances.

“This is a very difficult case. It’s one I’ve give a great deal of thought to, because it’s an unusual one,” she said, before denying the motion to withhold bail.

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Pam Shushkowski September 24, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I think Justin Wolfe is innocent; I always have since I first heard of this case. Why would he hire someone to kill his only supplier for the type of pot he made money on? He was wrong for selling drugs, but being a drug dealer does not make him an automatic murderer. There is way more to this story than is known so far, and the prosecution hid evidence. If they weren't worried about its value to the defense, why did they hid it? It will be interesting to see how this case goes.
sabrina sabbath October 10, 2012 at 10:38 AM
He did it !! 80,000 debt cleared !! After his supplier was murdered. Pam I like your last name especially the Shush u need to Shush !! Justin Wolfe u are where u belong.
Libby October 10, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Sabrina - you act like you know something about this case. $80k was petty cash to these kids. There was another kid on the "owe sheet" with a much larger debt than $80k. Why woul dyou "knock off" someone that was your cash cow? Besides, Justin and Danny were friends. There was another kid who was recenlty cut out of a deal --- do you think that kid may have had an ax to grind?
Virginia Law November 16, 2012 at 03:52 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
Zeivah December 27, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Wow - Sabrina I hope you never get caught up with a bad cop or prosecutor. Owen Barber pumped 21 bullets into Daniel Petrole and then lied to an eager prosecutor to save his own skin. For that he will be out lurking around your neighborhood soon as part of a plea deal. To pump that many bullets into someone at close range takes a special kind of human being - he then watched the life drain out of him. Wise up baby girl - justice is not always as clear as just trusting the supposed "good guys" we vote into office.

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