Dusty Smith, Triggerman: Death Row Inmate is Innocent, Woodbridge Patch, Nov. 9, 2010 (compliments of Habeas Corpus Blog):
[UPDATE: District Court grants habeas petition.]
In 2002, Justin Wolfe was sentenced to death for ordering Owen Barber to kill Daniel Petrole. At trial, Barber's testimony was the only direct evidence linking Wolfe to the murder. Now, Barber is testifying in the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division, stating that Wolfe had nothing to do with the murder.
According to his new testimony, Barber originally implicated Wolfe only because prosecutors threatened him with the death penalty otherwise. He came clean in a 2005 affidavit as part of Wolfe's habeas corpus proceedings. The Eastern District of Virginia found Wolfe's habeas petition barred by the statute of limitations. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit remanded and ordered the district court to hold an evidentiary hearing, see Wolfe v. Johnson, No. 08-8 (4th Cir. May 11, 2009). Evidence was heard on November 2 and 3, 2010, and the hearing was continued until November 16, 2010.
Procedural history: After Wolfe's trial, he filed a direct appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia, Wolfe v. Commonwealth, Nos. 021872, 022194, 576 S.E.2d 471 (Va. 2003); filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Virginia, Wolfe v. Warden, No. 040125 (Va. Mar. 10, 2005); moved for rehearing the state habeas decision before the Supreme Court of Virginia, Wolfe v. Warden, No. 040125 (Va. June 17, 2005); petitioned for certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States, Wolfe v. True, 545 U.S. 1153 (2005); petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus in the Eastern District of Virginia, Wolfe v. Johnson, No. 2:05-cv-432-RAJ-DEM (E.D. Va.) (filed Nov. 7, 2005); and appealed to the Fourth Circuit, Wolfe v. Johnson, No. 08-8 (4th Cir. May 11, 2009).