Justin Wolfe’s death sentence and conviction were overturned in 2011 after a federal judge found multiple acts of misconduct by Paul Ebert, who has sent more people to death row in Virginia than any other prosecutor in the state.  Last year, the 4th Circuit ruled that Wolfe should be retried for the 2001 murder-for-hire of Daniel Petrole Jr.  The state doesn’t believe that the retrial needs to be speedy, however.  They have levied new charges against Wolfe, that in and of themselves could put Wolfe in prison for life.

Are prosecutors trying to strong arm Wolfe into a plea deal?  (Read:  Why is Wolfe Still in Prison? on Slate)

“Why is the commonwealth still prosecuting a case in which the evidence is impossibly tainted, the star witness has taken the fifth, and which the federal district court has insisted must end because the whole thing collapsed under years of repeated misconduct?” Dahlia Lithwick answers, “Because it can.”

Prosecutor Paul Ebert who has stepped down from the case explained that his office suppressed exculpatory evidence because it “does not have an open-file policy”, referring to providing criminal defense attorneys with access to the entire case file.  Ebert made no mention of law, interest of justice, fairness, or the Brady rule of discovery.  In addition, Ebert said that in the past he learned that if he gives the defense information that can show the defendant isn’t guilty, they tend to win at trial by what he called “fabricating” a defense around the exculpatory evidence.

In other words, according to Lithwick, “Ebert admitted that his office hangs on to proof of innocence in order to keep criminal defendants from proving themselves innocent.”

A judge said prosecutors’ behavior in the case is “not only unconstitutional in regards to due process, but abhorrent…”


Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s