At the age of 20, Justin Wolfe, ex-high school football player and normal, average, all American, suburban kid was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. He has been on Virginia 's death row since 2002 and has had two stays of execution.
Justin's options for appeals are running out, but there is still time for the truth to overcome his wrongful conviction. Read the synopsis of Justin's story below to understand the injustice of his conviction, the outrage of so many who have followed his case, and the flaws in the U.S. Justice System his trial reveals.
Justin Wolfe's Story
It is undisputed that on March 15th, 2001, Owen Barber shot Danny Petrole to death.
A supplier of high grade marijuana (aka "chronic") in the Fairfax, VA area, and the murder victim.
A low-grade marijuana ("shwag") dealer who was trying to break into the high grade chronic ring at the time of the murder. By his own confession, Barber murdered Petrole.
Owen Barber confesses to murdering Danny Petrole.
Owen Barber freely admits that on on the night of the murder he followed Danny Petrole to his newly purchased condo, stopped him in his car before he entered his home, pointed his 9 mm Smith and Wesson at him and fired 10 shots. Nine of the shots Barber fired struck Petrole, killing him.
Barber implicates Justin Wolfe in exchange for immunity for the death sentence.
For his crime Barber faced the possibility of the death sentence, but he avoided capital punishment by accepting a plea bargain offered to him by Fairfax County prosecutors. In exchange for immunity from the death penalty, Barber agreed to testify that Justin Wolfe hired him to kill Petrole.
Justin maintains innocence, is found guilty based on Barber's testimony and is sentenced to death.
Justin admitted to dealing chronic, but denied any involvement in the murder and maintains his innocence to this day. Incredibly, the jury hearing Justin's case believed Barber, a man clearly capable of lying and highly motivated to do so. Justin was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to death on August 28th, 2002. Barber was sentenced to 60 yrs, minus his 22 year age, and ordered 15 years probation on his release, amounting to 38 years in prison. Owen Barber, the man who fired 9 shots into Danny Petrole, will be free in 2040 while Justin Wolfe is facing the death penalty as a result of Barber's plea-bargained testimony.
Barber admits in 2007 by sworn affidavit that he lied to the jury about Wolfe's involvement in the murder in order to avoid the death penalty and to satisfy prosecutors.
While in prison, Barber confessed to his cell-mate Carl Huff that he lied to the jury about Justin's involvement in the murder. Huff contacted Wolfe's lawyers and informed them of Barber's admission of perjury. Barber later signed a sworn statement admitting that he falsified his testimony in order to avoid the death penalty and to satisfy aggressive prosecutors, and he admitted that Wolfe had nothing to do with the murder. Carl Huff signed an affidavit corroborating in detail Barber's admission of perjury.
Justin's conviction relied almost entirely on cell phone records and the testimony of four men, including Barber, all of whom were involved in drug dealing and all of whom made deals in exchange for their testimony. The cell phone records showed that Owen called Justin many times that evening, but careful investigation and re-creation of the phone calls that Owen testified about casts serious doubt on his testimony and the circumstances of the calls themselves.
Justin's attorney disbarred for mishandling cases.
Justin's lawyer, John H. Partridge admitted after the trial that he had never tried a capital murder case and that he made many mistakes in the handling of Justin's case. Subsequent to Justin's trial, Partridge was accused of mishandling other cases and was disbarred. Several jurors have signed affidavits attesting to the poor handling the jury thought Justin's attorney had done. At least one witness admits information revealed after the trial by a witness who was never called to the stand may have changed her decision.
Justin has been denied several rounds of appeals.
Justin's options for a new trial and exoneration are running out, but with your help, his story can be heard and the truth can still prevail.