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Wolfe Case: Court Will Not Force PWC Prosecutors to Testify

Admitted triggerman in the Justin Wolfe case refuses to testify on fifth amendment grounds, citing "perjury trap."

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. 

Read more:

Wolfe Trial Pushed to January

Raymond Morrogh Appointed Special Prosecutor in Justin Wolfe Case

Triggerman: Death Row Inmate is Innocent

All previous coverage of the Justin Wolfe case on Patch

P. Hammond November 01, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Paul Ebert and Richard Conway and Samson Newsome visted Owen Barber in prison to threaten him with perjury if his testimony at trial was different than it was in 2001. They have no jurisdiction to charge him for his truthful testimony before the U.S. District Court in Norfolk in 2010, in which he accused Ebert, Conway and PWC police detective Newsome with threatening him with the death penalty if he did not testify against Wolfe, thus insuring Wolfe received the death penalty for a crime (murder for hire) that he did not commit. Now, after the scathing opinion by the U.S. District Court and the 4th District Court of Appeals, Ebert and Conway are in a desperate attempt to salvage what is left of their reputations at the expense of Wolfe and Barber. In the meantime, they have ignored several other suspects, against whom they have evidence, for the murder of Danny Petrole. We need better from our elected officials and public servants.
Interesting November 01, 2012 at 02:30 PM
P. Hammond, you are absolutely correct in everything you've stated. You have also highlighted the fact that they are ELECTED officials. Hopefully, the constituency will pay attention and vote these criminals out of office. This is certainly not the first time they have abused their power to make a case. Additionally, why has PWC Circuit Court Presiding Judge O'Brien been allowed to remain on this case when the case rests on the unethical actions of her commonwealth's attorneys? Why haven't the PWC Judges recused themselves from this case, or been forced to do so, because of the obvious conflict of interest and lack of impartiality?
Katherine November 01, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Mr. Ebert continues to bring shame on the justice system of Prince William County. Please, residents of PWC, vote these criminals out of office! Ebert, you will go down in history as and arrogant, dishonest and despicible human being. You need to disappear to some retirement home and reflect on the crimes you ave committed. Talk about a day of reckoning! I would pray for your soul if you had one...
Carolyn Maddamma November 01, 2012 at 10:00 PM
They are elected officials, but no one runs against them! Are there no honest prosecutors in PWC that would like to bring some honor back to the County?
Virginia Law November 16, 2012 at 03:53 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

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