- DOC Number: 1139246.
- Inmate Number: 309126.
- Venue: Prince William County.
- Victim: Daniel Robert Petrole, Jr.
- Current Location: Sussex I State Prison.
- Status: Findings by federal District Court in habeas corpus filing vacated in part by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and remanded for further proceedings.
- As of: May 11, 2009.
Summary of crime:
From Wolfe v. Commonwealth [emphasis mine throughout]:
The defendant [Justin Michael Wolfe] was a major drug dealer in Northern Virginia. He regularly sold high-grade marijuana, referred to as “kind bud” or “chronic,” for a price between $ 4,200 and $ 5,000 per pound. His marijuana supplier was Daniel Robert Petrole, Jr., who began to supply marijuana to defendant in November 2000, seven months before he was murdered.
Petrole, a major drug supplier of high-grade marijuana in Northern Virginia, regularly purchased about 100 pounds of marijuana per month at a price of $ 360,000. Petrole usually sold the defendant between eight and 18 pounds of marijuana every two weeks. The defendant described Petrole as his “chronic man.”
In furtherance of their drug activities, the defendant and Petrole utilized an informal system of credit described as “fronting.” When Petrole sold the defendant marijuana, the defendant gave Petrole a quantity of cash as a down payment, and the defendant paid the balance when he received proceeds from the sales of marijuana to others. Petrole maintained a record of sales of marijuana to dealers such as the defendant, and payments made by those dealers, on documents commonly known as “owe sheets.” The “owe sheets” contained the amounts of the debts that drug dealers owed to Petrole. On occasions, the defendant owed Petrole as much as $ 100,000. An “owe sheet” that was discovered on Petrole’s body the night he was murdered indicated that the defendant owed Petrole more than $ 60,000.
The defendant and his friends, T. Jason Coleman and Chad E. Hough, had discussions about robbing drug dealers. On one occasion, the defendant, Hough and Coleman planned to rob a drug dealer at a location in Washington, D.C., but after they conducted surveillance of the planned location of the robbery, they concluded that the extensive level of security at the location rendered their plan too risky.
Janelle E. Johnson, Coleman’s wife, testified that in the winter of 2000, the defendant and Coleman discussed committing a burglary or stealing money from another drug dealer who sold marijuana in Northern Virginia. In furtherance of this plan, the defendant and Coleman purchased ski masks and duct tape.
Hough testified that he and the defendant “talked about performing robberies most of the time. Almost every time we got together, it was usually some type of robbery connected with drugs.” In January or February 2001, the defendant asked Hough if he “wanted to maybe be in on making some money, and [the defendant] mentioned . . . that [Hough] could . . . make some money by taking [part] in a robbery . . . .” The defendant wanted Hough to rob a drug dealer when the defendant was “making a buy.” The defendant wanted Hough to follow the drug dealer and rob him. The defendant did not mention the drug dealer’s name, but Hough concluded that the defendant wanted Hough to rob the defendant’s drug supplier.
Owen M. Barber, IV, and the defendant had been “good friends” for six or seven years. Barber, who was also a drug dealer, purchased low-quality marijuana, referred to as “shwag.” Occasionally, he sold pounds of marijuana to the defendant. The defendant asked Barber if he “wanted to get [the defendant’s] chronic man.” The defendant stated that Barber must not merely rob his “chronic man,” but that Barber must shoot him because Petrole knew too many people. Barber testified as follows:
“Q: Did there come a point in time when you had a discussion concerning [the defendant’s] supplier of chronic or kind bud [marijuana]?
“A: Yeah. It was one day when we were at [a restaurant] just drinking and [the defendant] asked me if I wanted to get his chronic man.
“Q: Get the chronic man?
“A: Yeah. And I was like, yeah, you know, we’ll just rob him or whatever. And I was like, all right, you know and then he said, no, no you can’t rob him. He was like, we got to shoot him because he knows too many people.
“Q: He knows too many people?
“Q: At that point in time, did he tell you who his chronic man was?
“Q: Who was it?
“A: He said Danny Petrole.
“Q: Had you known Danny Petrole prior to that time?
“A: No. I knew the name. I didn’t know him like personally.”
This conversation occurred in late February or early March, 2001.
The “next couple of days” after the defendant and Barber had the conversation about robbing and killing Petrole, the defendant and Barber planned how they “could do it and how [they would] have to find him or . . . follow him or catch him alone.” On one occasion, the defendant and Barber went to Petrole’s apartment in Washington, D.C. to determine if it was feasible to kill him at that location. The owner of the apartment building employed a doorman, and the defendant and Barber concluded that they should not kill Petrole at that location.
Subsequently, the defendant and Barber made another attempt to locate and kill Petrole. The defendant made a telephone call to Petrole one night, and Petrole informed the defendant that Petrole intended to attend a class at the Northern Virginia Community College campus in Arlington or Annandale, Virginia. Barber was not sure of the specific campus where Petrole attended community college. The defendant and Barber got in Barber’s car and traveled to the campus. They “drove around the parking lot” looking for Petrole’s car, but they were unable to find it.
On another occasion, the defendant spoke with Petrole, who informed the defendant that he (Petrole) planned to eat dinner at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. The defendant and Barber traveled to the restaurant in search of Petrole. Barber testified that they “went and looked for him at the restaurant . . . and we didn’t see him. Then we went back and we waited in the parking lot . . . behind his building.” Barber and the defendant did not find Petrole that evening. Barber and the defendant concluded that they were going to kill Petrole if he returned to his apartment that night. If he did not return to his apartment, they were going to wait until they had another opportunity to kill him.
During the next several days, Barber and the defendant continued to discuss their plan to kill Petrole. On March 15, 2001, the defendant placed a telephone call to Barber, who was with a friend, Robert H. Martin, Jr. The defendant directed Barber to meet the defendant at a restaurant in Fairfax County. Barber and Martin went to the restaurant, and Barber and the defendant spoke alone in a parking lot. The defendant informed Barber that the defendant had spoken to Petrole, and the defendant planned to meet him that night. Petrole had agreed to bring a large quantity of high-grade marijuana to an apartment that the defendant shared with his girlfriend, Regina A. Zuener.
The defendant and Barber agreed that Barber would follow Petrole once he left Zuener’s apartment. Barber returned to the car where Martin had waited, and they went to Barber’s apartment. About an hour later, the defendant, using his cellular telephone, called Barber to inform him that Petrole was “on his way” to Zuener’s apartment. Barber called the defendant and inquired whether Petrole had arrived, and the defendant informed Barber that Petrole had not.
Barber asked Martin if he wanted to accompany Barber “on this thing [Barber] had to do,” but Martin refused. Barber testified as follows: “I think I told [Martin], you know, I’ve got to go do this thing and he was like – he said he was [willing] to beat him up or to rob him or whatever. And I was like, no, you know, it’s more than that. He’s like, no, no, I’m not going to do it. I’ll let you have my car, but I’m not going to do it.” Barber wanted to use Martin’s car to travel to Zuener’s house so that he could rob and kill Petrole because Barber’s car was too distinctive. Barber’s car was equipped with racing tires and a large noisy engine.
Barber, armed with a Smith & Wesson nine millimeter pistol that he had purchased from Coleman, got into Martin’s car and drove to a cul-de-sac at the end of a street near Zuener’s apartment. Petrole arrived at Zuener’s apartment in Centreville. The defendant, Jennifer E. Pascquierllo, Nicholas Soto, and Coleman were present. Petrole knocked on the door, and Zuener let him in. Petrole was carrying a large black duffel bag filled with high-grade marijuana. Petrole and the defendant went upstairs to a bedroom. Later, Zuener went to the bedroom where she observed a large drug transaction occur between Petrole and the defendant. She saw between 10 and 15 pounds of high-grade marijuana on her bed. Petrole had a large amount of money. The marijuana was packaged in separate bags, weighing approximately one pound each. When the drug transaction was completed, the defendant and his friends went to a nightclub, and Petrole left the apartment and got in his car.
As Petrole began to drive his car, unbeknownst to him, Barber followed Petrole as he drove through Fairfax County. Petrole parked his car in front of a house in Fairfax County and went inside. Barber, using his cellular telephone, called the defendant and informed him that Petrole “went into some house in Fairfax City.” Later, Petrole got back in his car and drove off as Barber continued to follow him. While following him, Barber temporarily lost sight of Petrole’s car, but managed to locate it and continued to follow him. Petrole drove his car to a neighborhood where he had recently purchased a townhouse and parked his car. Barber stopped the car he was driving and “jumped out.” Barber stated, “I shot him across through the passenger side window and then jumped back in the car and turned around and then left out with . . . my lights off.” Barber shot Petrole 10 times, and he was five or six feet from the victim when he discharged the pistol. Barber damaged Martin’s car during the murder. As Barber sped away, he tossed the pistol and gloves he used out of the car window.
Issa Hassan, Walter P. Gunning, Jr., and Jeanette Lorentzen were in Petrole’s townhouse when they heard noises and ran to the window. They observed a red Ford Escort as it “sped off real fast and turned its lights as it turned around the corner.” Issa Hassan went outside, and he saw Petrole seated in the driver’s seat of the car. Hassan opened the door and shook Petrole. Petrole’s neck was “flimsy,” and he did not have a pulse. The car’s windows were shattered, and there was “glass everywhere in the car.”
Police officers responded to the scene of the murder and found $ 965 on the victim’s body. The police officers found $ 17,460 in United States currency in the victim’s duffel bag located in the trunk of his vehicle. The police officers searched the victim’s house and found approximately $ 120,000 cash, 46 pounds of high-grade marijuana, which was “vacuum packed” in plastic bags, 4,000 tablets of metholanedioxine, an amphetamine, also known as Ecstasy, and an “owe sheet.”
Gunning, Petrole’s roommate, testified that Petrole was angry with the defendant because he owed Petrole over $ 66,000 and that the defendant had taken “a little longer than what he expected to pay him back.”
Dr. Frances P. Field, an assistant medical examiner, conducted an autopsy upon Petrole’s body. She gave the following testimony. The victim had nine gunshot wounds in his body. One bullet penetrated the victim’s spinal column and severed the spinal cord. Bullets damaged the victim’s ribs, abdomen, liver, kidney, large intestines, small intestines, aorta, lung, and chest. Dr. Field opined that the defendant’s death was caused by multiple gunshot wounds, and that any of the wounds which injured the internal organs such as the lung, liver, kidney, or spinal canal could have proven fatal because of bleeding from those sites.
After he had committed the murder, Barber returned to his apartment and told Martin that he had killed Petrole. Barber used his cellular telephone to talk with the defendant, who was at the nightclub.
Barber changed clothes, and he and Martin went to the nightclub to meet the defendant. Once Barber and Martin entered the nightclub, Barber and the defendant spoke outside of Martin’s presence. Barber told the defendant that he (Barber) “did it and it was done.” The defendant responded, “all right.” Then the defendant gave Barber “like a pound and a half hug.” The defendant “ordered a round of drinks” for himself, Barber, and Martin. The defendant commented that “we got to have a made cake now – or like a rack of cake,” a slang expression that means “we made a lot of money.” The purpose of the toast was to celebrate their “rack of money.”
In return for his act of killing Petrole, the defendant told Barber that he did not have to pay for four pounds of marijuana that the defendant had previously sold him. Additionally, the defendant gave Barber a half pound of “chronic” marijuana, forgave Barber’s $ 3,000 debt for past drug transactions, and promised to pay Barber $ 10,000 in cash.
Martin testified at trial, and his testimony corroborated Barber’s version of the events on the night of the murder. Martin and Barber had dinner with Martin’s parents on the evening of March 15 before the murder. After dinner, Barber and Martin went to Barber’s apartment that he shared with Coleman. They drank beer and smoked marijuana. Martin observed Barber when he had the conversation with the defendant in the parking lot of the restaurant. After the conversation, when the men were at Barber’s apartment, Barber told Martin that Barber intended to “put one in each kneecap.” Barber told Martin that Barber intended to leave the apartment with his pistol after he received a telephone call from the defendant. After Barber received the telephone call, he left the apartment, followed Petrole, and killed him.
Martin testified that after the murder, he and Barber went to the nightclub and when they met the defendant, Barber told Martin “to go away” so that the defendant and Barber could have a private conversation. After the defendant and Barber had concluded their private conversation, Martin approached them. The defendant and Barber gave Martin an alcoholic beverage, and the defendant “told [Martin] right there you can’t say nothing about this and I’m about to make a lot of money.” Immediately, the defendant, Barber, and Martin made a toast.
After the murder, Martin approached the defendant and asked for a discount for the purchase of marijuana. Martin told the defendant, “I know what happened.” The defendant gave Martin a discount on the purchase and forgave him of a past drug debt.
The day after the murder, the defendant and several friends, including Barber, went shopping to purchase clothes to wear to a birthday party in honor of the defendant on March 17, 2001. The defendant and his friends purchased several bottles of expensive champagne for his birthday party that cost in excess of $ 200 per bottle.
After his birthday party, the defendant decided that things were getting “too hot” with the police, and he fled to Florida. Police officers searched Barber’s apartment and interrogated him, but he denied any involvement in Petrole’s murder. Barber left Virginia, went to Florida, and then fled to San Diego, California. Barber contacted his former girlfriend, Jennifer Pascquierllo, and asked her to obtain money from the defendant and bring the money to Barber. The defendant gave her $ 1,000. She drove her car to meet Barber in San Diego, where he was eventually arrested by United States Marshals.
Three days after the murder, Barber gave Martin $ 540 and directed him to repair the damage to his car and to replace the tires. Barber was afraid that the car’s tires may have created identifiable skid marks at the scene of the murder. Barber instructed Martin to take the car to Virginia Beach, Virginia, and get it repaired there. Martin told Barber that Martin was not “going to help him out.” Martin tried to return the money, but Barber would not accept it. That night, Martin contacted police officers and reported the crime.
Pascquierllo testified that Barber relayed to her the facts relating to the murder of Petrole. Her testimony concerning these facts was consistent with Barber’s trial testimony. She also testified: “I asked [Barber] what the sum of money was, what kind of sum of money it could have been, and he told me that it was $ 10,000 and he got some weed, but that he had to flush it, and then he told me that it was also the $ 3,000 debt that involved me.” Pascquierllo testified that Barber tried unsuccessfully to obtain from the defendant the $ 10,000 that he had promised to pay Barber to kill Petrole.
The defendant made numerous admissions during his testimony. The defendant admitted that he had been a drug dealer for four or five years before Petrole’s death. He admitted that he was guilty of the charge of conspiracy to distribute more than five pounds of marijuana. He had distributed more than 100 pounds of marijuana throughout Northern Virginia since he began selling drugs. He admitted that he had spoken to his friends about robbing a drug dealer. He admitted that he had discussed with Coleman the possibility of committing robberies. The defendant admitted that he was the last person Barber called before Barber killed Petrole and the first person Barber called after Petrole’s death. He admitted that he sold marijuana to Martin after the murder and that Martin stated, “I know what happened.” After Martin made this statement, the defendant admitted he decreased the price of the marijuana he sold to Martin.
The defendant testified that one of his highest priorities was the “high life” that money could obtain for him. The defendant regularly spent between $ 2,000 and $ 3,000 on weekends for entertainment purposes. The defendant admitted that he owed Petrole more than $ 80,000 at the time of Petrole’s death.
The defendant claimed that Barber testified untruthfully about him because the defendant purportedly had had sexual relations with Barber’s former girlfriend, Pascquierllo. However, the defendant admits that when asked by the police detectives, “did Owen have anything against you?,” the defendant responded, “no.” Additionally, Pascquierllo denied that she ever had a sexual relationship with the defendant.
- “Offender Locator.” Virginia Department of Corrections 11 Oct. 2010. <http://www.vadoc.state.va.us/offenders/locator/index.cfm>. [↩] [↩] [↩]
- Wolfe v. Commonwealth, 265 Va. 193, 576 S.E.2d 471 (2003). [↩]
- Wolfe v. Commonwealth, 265 Va. 193, 198, 576 S.E.2d 471, 474 (2003). [↩] [↩] [↩] [↩]
- Wolfe v. Johnson, 565 F.3d 140 (4th Cir. 2009). [↩] [↩]
- Wolfe v. Commonwealth, 265 Va. 193, 199-206, 576 S.E.2d 471, 474-479 (2003). [↩]