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Va. appeals court hears murder-for-hire case

Thursday - 5/17/2012, 12:08pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. - A federal appeals court is considering the case of a Prince William County man whose murder-for-hire conviction was overturned.

A lawyer for the state on Thursday urged a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a judge's decision tossing out Justin Michael Wolfe's conviction and death sentence. Wolfe was convicted in the 2001 slaying of his marijuana supplier, Daniel Petrole.

Last year, a judge ruled that prosecutors had suppressed evidence and knowingly used false testimony from the shooter, Owen Barber, who later recanted. Wolfe's lawyer told the appeals court that the judge acted properly after assessing the credibility of witnesses at an evidentiary hearing.

The case exposed a multimillion-dollar drug ring run by young people barely out of high school in the northern Virginia suburbs.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)