Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 18, 2012

Judge hears motions in retrial of Va. capital case

Associated Press

MANASSAS, Va. — A judge is weighing whether prosecutors acted improperly by making a jailhouse visit to their one-time star witness in a death-penalty case.

Lawyers for Justin Wolfe argued Tuesday that Prince William County prosecutors were trying to intimidate triggerman Owen Barber into testifying for the government again. They want a judge to sanction prosecutors by tossing out the charges against Wolfe.

Wolfe was convicted in 2002 of hiring Barber to kill another drug dealer. But last year a federal judge overturned Wolfe’s conviction and said prosecutors deliberately withheld evidence that may have helped Wolfe. The judge ordered a new trial.

Prosecutors say the jailhouse visit to Wolfe was proper. Barber has changed his story several times but most recently said he falsely implicated Wolfe to get a better plea deal.