Justin Michael Wolfe made the long trip from Sussex I State Prison in Waverly Monday morning for naught.
A Prince William Circuit Court judge denied the 22-year old Centreville man the additional attorney and two investigators he requested for a second appeal of his conviction of murder-for-hire in 2002. He was sentenced to death.
Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. told Wolfe’s attorney that the Prince William Court no longer had jurisdiction over such decisions.
“I don’t think this is the court with jurisdiction to entertain these motions,” Whisenant said. “If we do [have jurisdiction] the Supreme Court can send it back.”
Wolfe’s defense attorney, Jerry Lyell, said afterwards that he would file the same requests with the Virginia Supreme Court in Richmond, and that he had a deadline of Dec. 1 to do so.
Members of Wolfe’s defense said they were caught in a catch-22 situation, since they need investigators in order to draft Wolfe’s new appeal petition, but without the petition, the Virginia Supreme Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the case.
Wolfe was convicted in July 2002 of capital murder for hire in the death of Daniel Robert Petrole Jr., 21, who had been Wolfe’s marijuana supplier. Wolfe, Petrole, and gunman Owen Merton Barber IV, of Chantilly, had all been members of a marijuana ring operating throughout Northern Virginia. Wolfe was indebted to Petrole, and Barber was indebted to Wolfe. The quantity of marijuana discovered in Petrole’s Braemar town house was one of the largest seized in Prince William.
Barber, 23, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced in August 2002 to 38 years in prison.
Wolfe’s first appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court failed. The Virginia Justices’ decision was released in March, denying the 37 claims presented by Marvin Miller, Wolfe’s previous attorney, in February. The Supreme Court upheld Wolfe’s death sentence in the March decision.