"Wolfe again seeks end to death-penalty retrial," is the AP report by Matthew Barakat. It's via the San Francisco Chronicle.
A key witness who recanted his testimony in a death-penalty case was told by prosecutors that he could face the same punishment himself if he does not go back to his original story, according to defense lawyers.
The allegation about witness Owen Barber is contained in a motion that seeks to dismiss the capital retrial of Justin Wolfe, whose original conviction and death sentence were overturned after a decade on death row on accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.
The motion contains details of a jailhouse discussion in September between prosecutors and Barber, their one-time star witness who avoided the death penalty by testifying against Wolfe in 2001. Initially, Barber, the triggerman in the shooting of rival drug dealer Daniel Petrole, said he was acting on behalf of Wolfe. Barber later recanted, leading a federal judge to overturn the conviction.
In court papers, Wolfe's defense lawyers describe parts of the jailhouse conversation. They say that Barber maintained that his original testimony implicating Wolfe was false. Prosecutors then tell Barber that the case is back at "square one" and that Barber himself could face death penalty charges if he failed to uphold his original testimony, according to the motion.
More broadly, the defense argues that the retrial amounts to a vindictive prosecution because the new charges are harsher than those originally filed against Wolfe, including an additional death-penalty count based on an allegation of a "continuing criminal enterprise."
"It is constitutionally impermissible to add new charges against someone who's been declared innocent by a federal court," said defense lawyer Edward MacMahon.
A judge will likely hold a hearing on the motion in coming weeks.
Lawyers are also seeking to have the case tossed out in federal court, arguing that state prosecutors failed to follow a federal judge's order to either retry Wolfe in 120 days or grant his unconditional release.
Earlier coverage of Justin Wolfe's case begins at the link.
Related posts are in the prosecutorial misconduct category index. The responsibility of the state to provide exculpatory evidence to the defense was articulated in the 1963 Supreme Court ruling in Brady v. Maryland; more via Oyez.