Subpoenas that would have required the Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney and others to testify at a hearing for a capital murder case were quashed in court Wednesday morning.
Defense attorneys for Justin Michael Wolfe—a Chantilly High graduate who will be retried in January for allegedly ordering the 2001 murder of his drug supplier, Daniel Petrole, Jr., of Centreville—wanted to compel the county's chief prosecutor, Paul Ebert, to speak in court Wednesday about recent conversations with the admitted triggerman in the case.
A Prince William County Circuit Court judge denied the motion to have Ebert and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Richard Conway testify at the hearing.
An attorney for Owen Merton Barber IV, the triggerman, said Barber would not testify. He cited fifth amendment concerns that Barber's testimony could lead to a "perjury trap."
Barber testified against Wolfe at his original trial a decade ago as part of a plea deal with prosecutors—but retracted that testimony in federal court in 2010. He said that he only testified to avoid the death penalty.
In 2011, a federal judge threw out Wolfe's conviction for the murder, and wrote that Ebert and Conway had witheld evidence and built their case on "hearsay" and "speculation." In August this year, a federal appeals court affirmed that ruling. The case was subsequently sent back to Prince William County Circuit Court, and Ebert recused himself from the retrial.
However, Wolfe's attorneys wanted to know why Ebert met with Barber on Sept. 11, just days before the court appointed a new special prosecutor. The defense presented a list of questions to Judge Mary Grace O'Brien; she ruled Ebert did not have to answer. Wolfe's lawyers wanted to learn what Barber and Ebert discussed during the meeting, and whether it violated any procedures or Wolfe’s rights.
Motions in the case continued into Tuesday afternoon. Wolfe's trial is scheduled to begin in January.
Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that Prince William County Detective Sam Newsome would not have to testify. He did, in fact, testify.
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