A group of 34 former judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials is urging a federal appeals court to reject the state’s effort to reinstate the capital murder conviction of Justin Wolfe.
Wolfe was convicted in Prince William County of hiring a man to kill a rival drug dealer in 2002. The evidence against him came primarily from the actual killer who changed his story about Wolfe’s involvement several times.
Last July, a Norfolk federal judge vacated Wolfe’s conviction and death sentence in an opinion that sharply criticized prosecutors for withholding evidence that could have helped Wolfe’s defense. The state appealed the ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Now opposing the appeal, in addition to Wolfe’s lawyers, is the group of former officials whose friend-of-the-court brief underscores the obligation of prosecutors to turn over evidence favorable to a defendant.
The amici brief highlights evidence the prosecution failed to disclose that the killer originally admitted he acted alone and that police presented the killer with an off-the-record sentencing deal for his testimony against Wolfe.
Among those submitting the brief are two former federal appeals judges, four former federal district judges, a former chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, a former associate judge of the New York Court of Appeals, and a former Maryland attorney general.
By Peter Vieth