The Federal District Court order in Wolfe v. Clarke is available in Adobe .pdf format.
The Washington Examiner posts an editorial, "Capital case exposes prosecutorial misconduct."
Before Prince William County prosecutors made headlines in the Beltway sniper case, they helped send former Chantilly High School football player Justin Wolfe to Virginia's death row for the March 2001 murder of Danny Petrole, a community college student and the son of a retired Secret Service agent. Petrole was also the kingpin of one of the largest drug rings ever uncovered in Northern Virginia.
But now a federal judge in Norfolk has ordered Wolfe's release, raising disturbing questions about prosecutorial misconduct in capital cases.
In 2011, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson overturned Wolfe's conviction, ruling that prosecutors wrongly withheld exonerating evidence. Last August, a three-judge appellate panel agreed.
In Wolfe's case, Prince William fell far short of acceptable prosecutorial standards. Disciplinary action should be taken against all involved in this shocking miscarriage of justice.
"Attorney general’s office to appeal order barring retrial," is by Frank Green for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The Virginia Attorney General’s Office will appeal a federal judge’s order barring the retrial of Justin Wolfe in a 2001 capital murder in Prince William County.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson of Norfolk ordered Wolfe freed from jail within 10 days and barred any retrial in the murder-for-hire of Daniel Petrole Jr., his marijuana supplier.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said Thursday that an appeal of Jackson’s retrial order will be filed. Raymond Morrogh, the Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney and the appointed special prosecutor in the case, said a stay will be sought to halt any release of Wolfe pending a new trial.
Wolfe, 31, is being held at the Prince William County Jail.
Last year Jackson, citing prosecutorial misconduct, threw out Wolfe’s conviction and gave the state 120 days to retry him. On Wednesday, Jackson ruled that the 120-day period had expired and ordered Wolfe released.
Jackson also barred any retrial of Wolfe that would require the testimony of Owen Barber IV, the triggerman and the state’s star witness at Wolfe’s 2002 trial.
Last week, the Times-Dispatch reported, "Judge orders release of former death-row inmate." It was also written by Frank Green.
A federal judge Wednesday ordered the release within 10 days of former death row inmate Justin Wolfe who was convicted of the 2001 murder-for-hire of Daniel Petrole Jr.
In addition, U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson barred any retrial of Wolfe for Petrole’s death that would require the testimony of Owen Barber IV, the triggerman and key witness in Wolfe’s 2002 Prince William County trial.
A spokesman for the Virginia Attorney General’s office could not be reached for comment Wednesday but Kimberly Irving, one of Wolfe’s lawyers, said she expects the state to appeal Jackson’s ruling.
Last year Jackson tossed out Wolfe’s conviction and death sentence citing prosecutorial misconduct and gave the state 120 days to retry him. On Wednesday, Jackson found the state had exceeded the deadline.
Jackson’s order also held that a Sept. 11 visit to Barber in prison by Prince William County authorities has rendered a new trial involving Barber unfair to Wolfe.
Irving said she believes Jackson’s ruling means that even if authorities decide they could retry Wolfe in Petrole’s slaying without Barber’s testimony, they would still be barred because Wolfe could not use Barber as a defense witness.
Earlier coverage of Justin Wolfe's case begins at the link.