Va. 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in richmond
Updated: Monday, 28 Jan 2013, 4:08 PM EST
Published : Monday, 28 Jan 2013, 4:07 PM EST
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A judge's order freeing a Virginia capital murder defendant and barring his retrial is now in the hands of a federal appeals court.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond heard Justin Wolfe's case Monday.
The attorney general's office appealed last month after a federal judge in Norfolk ordered Wolfe freed. The judge said prosecutors had failed to retry Wolfe within the 120 days he gave them when he tossed the conviction. Prosecutors say the judge exceeded his authority.
Appeals court judges sounded reluctant to use federal power to block a state prosecution.
Wolfe spent more than a decade on death row for the 2001 murder-for-hire of his drug supplier. Another man, Owen Barber, initially testified Wolfe hired him to kill Daniel Petrole but later recanted.
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