Shooter takes stand at Wolfe trial

MANASSAS — When Justin Michael Wolfe told longtime friend and drug-dealing associate Owen Merton Barber IV he wanted to “get” his supplier of high-grade marijuana, Barber said he assumed Wolfe meant a robbery.

But Wolfe had other plans for Daniel Robert Petrole Jr., 21, Barber said.

“He said, ‘No, you can’t rob him. We’ve got to shoot him because he knows too many people,'” Barber testified Monday in Prince William Circuit Court on the fourth day of Wolfe’s capital murder trial.

Wolfe, 20, of Centreville, is accused of hiring Barber, 21, to kill Petrole on March 15, 2001, so Wolfe could profit from not paying Petrole $66,325 of drug debt.

But Wolfe didn’t keep his end of the deal, said Barber, the key witness for Prince William County prosecutors in their attempt to prove Wolfe hired Barber for the killing. Wolfe could face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder; he also is charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 5 pounds of marijuana.

Wearing jeans, a rosary, and a blue-and-white Nautica sweater he bought in Tysons Corner the day after the shooting, Barber, charged with first-degree murder, testified Monday about his relationship with Wolfe.

The two became friends at Chantilly High School in Fairfax County, where Barber began buying marijuana from Wolfe.

For about a year before Petrole’s death, Wolfe supplied Barber with high-grade marijuana, called “chronic” or “kind bud,” and Barber got Wolfe regular marijuana from a dealer in Washington, D.C.

In late February or early March of last year, Barber said Wolfe approached him at the Blue Iguana bar in Fairfax County.

“He asked me if I wanted to get his chronic man,” said Barber, who thought Wolfe intended a robbery. But Wolfe said his high-grade marijuana supplier, Petrole, would have to be killed, testified Barber, who barely glanced at Wolfe during more than two hours on the witness stand Monday.

Barber owned a 9 mm Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun he bought from Chantilly roommate Theodore “Jason” Coleman. Wolfe wanted Barber to shoot Petrole, who lived in Washington, D.C, and they spent the next few days looking for him, Barber said.

“We were going over how we could do it,” he testified. “We were trying to see where he was.”

Barber and Wolfe visited Petrole’s Dupont Circle apartment one night but decided there was too much security, Barber said. They also canvassed the parking lot at a Northern Virginia Community College branch searching for Petrole’s car but couldn’t find him, Barber testified.

Another night, Barber said he and Wolfe looked around a restaurant where Petrole was to be eating, and waited outside his apartment. “We were going to do it when we found him,” Barber said.

Wolfe called Barber on March 15 to tell him he would be meeting Petrole that night for a drug deal at the home of Wolfe’s girlfriend in Chantilly. Petrole dropped off a delivery of “chronic” for Wolfe as Barber waited outside.

In a borrowed Ford Escort, Barber testified he then followed Petrole in his Honda Civic to the city of Fairfax, and waited as Petrole made another drug delivery.

Barber then followed Petrole west on Interstate 66. At one point, he called Wolfe to say he thought he lost Petrole. But he called back to say he found him. Petrole was headed to a new town house he just purchased in the Braemar subdivision in Bristow.

Petrole — a classmate of Barber’s in eighth grade — stopped to parallel park at his house on Hadrians Court and Barber stopped his car.

“I jumped out He reached across to grab for something from the glove box real quick, and I shot through the passenger side window,” said Barber, who fired 10 times about 11 p.m.

“He just went back against the opposite end of the car, away from me.”

Petrole was hit nine times in the right side of his body, killing him instantly.

Barber tossed the gun and his gloves onto Braemar Parkway after speeding away. He met up with his friend Robert Holmes Martin Jr., who owned the Escort.

Barber testified he told Martin what happened.

Barber said Martin asked, “How do you know he’s dead?”

“He has to be I couldn’t see any other way,” Barber said he replied.

The two then met up with Wolfe and their friends at Bridges bar in Fairfax. Wolfe got them past a long line because he knew the owner.

“I told him that I did it and it was done,” Barber testified Monday. Wolfe grabbed his hand, gave him a half-hug, and ordered a round of drinks.

“He said, ‘Yeah, we’ll have a rack of money,'” Barber testified, meaning lots of money.

As payment, Barber said, Wolfe gave him 4 pounds of regular marijuana, a half pound of the more expensive high-grade marijuana, forgave $3,000 Barber owed him and promised him $10,000 once he sold the “chronic” he got from Petrole.

The next day, Wolfe, Barber and friends shopped in Tysons Corner and went to Bohemian Caverns, a club in northwest Washington, D.C., to celebrate Wolfe’s 20th birthday, Barber said.

Once there, they bought bottles of Dom Perignon for $220 a piece and stayed until 3:30 a.m.

The next night Barber called Wolfe, who said he was on his way to Florida.

Police quickly found Barber’s gun and traced it to him, although he scratched off the serial number. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms used chemical treatment to find the number.

Police raided the apartment of Barber and Coleman with a search warrant, and asked to question both of them.

Barber denied involvement with the shooting.

He then took $2,000 he had hidden in a stuffed animal and got a hotel. Worried that he may be caught, Barber packed his clothes and left for Florida. He gave Martin $540 to cover damages to Martin’s Escort the night of the shooting when Petrole’s car rolled into it as he was shot.

Near Jacksonville, Fla., Barber stopped and called Wolfe, who was staying at a friend’s house. Wolfe told Barber his picture had been in newspapers and police wanted him.

Barber said he paid for Amtrak tickets to San Diego, where he went and checked into a hotel room.

During the trip, he constantly tried to call Wolfe because he was running out of money, Barber testified.

Barber e-mailed off-and-on girlfriend Jennifer Elaine Pasquariello, 21, who drove to San Diego to bring Barber money.

Both were tracked there and arrested by federal marshals.

When asked by Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert why he was testifying against Wolfe, Barber said it was because Wolfe never called him back or helped him after the shooting. “He didn’t keep his full end of the bargain,” Barber said.

During questioning from defense attorney John Partridge, Barber said he drank every day and once injured his girlfriend with a stun gun.

Other witnesses called Monday included acquaintances of Wolfe, Barber and Petrole, who testified about purchasing drugs from the men. The week before the murder, Wolfe and his friends partied and did cocaine in Jamaica, witnesses said.

Prosecutors will continue calling witnesses when the trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. this morning.

Staff writer Patrick Wilson can be reached at (703) 368-7449.

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