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Wolfe retrial denied by federal judge

Chantilly native Justin Wolfe, who has been on death row for more than 10 years, may be freed within the next 10 days.

On Dec. 26, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson of Norfolk ordered Wolfe freed within 10 days and barred Virginia prosecutors from retrying him.

Wolfe was convicted in 2002 of ordering the murder of acquaintance Daniel Petrole, based primarily on the testimony of another acquaintance, Owen Barber.

But since Wolfe’s conviction, new testimony by Barber resulted in Jackson overturning the conviction last year.

Virginia prosecutors appealed Jackson’s ruling and a retrial for Wolfe was scheduled for Jan. 2, 2013.

But now Jackson says state prosecutors did not act expeditiously within the 120-day window in which Wolfe could be retried, and time has run out for them to do so.

In his Dec. 26 order, Jackson states “It is further ordered that the Commonwealth of Virginia is hereby barred from re-prosecuting the Petitioner on the charges originally tried herein in state court or any charges stemming from the death of Danny Petrole which requires the testimony of Owen Barber in any form.”

Jackson’s order also ordered Wolfe freed within 10 days.

Police seek information in two weekend robberies

The City of Falls Church Police Department is seeking information in two robberies that occurred the evening of Sunday, Dec. 16. Falls Church Police believe the two incidents are related.

The first robbery occurred at about 9:50 p.m. outside of a business at 169 Hillwood Ave.

Police said the victim was approached by three men, all described as Hispanic, under the age of 30, and speaking Spanish. Police said the victim stated that one suspect had a semiautomatic handgun. The suspects demanded the victim’s personal items then fled on foot toward East Broad Street.

Police received a late report of a second robbery that occurred approximately 30 minutes after the initial incident on North Washington Street near Park Avenue. The victim was approached by three men matching the description of the suspects in the earlier robbery. The suspects demanded the victim’s personal items before fleeing on foot. Police said there were no injuries in either robbery.

Anyone with information about the possible suspects should call the City of Falls Church Police at 703-248-5053.

Suspect in residential burglary sought

Fairfax County police are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the suspect who they say burglarized a home in the 6400 block of Jefferson Place in McLean.

An investigation determined that between noon and 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29, someone forced entry into the home by smashing out a window in the sunroom. Sterling silver utensils, jewelry and electronics were stolen.

In addition to the $100 to $1,000 cash reward being offered by Fairfax County Crime Solvers, a private reward of $5,000 is also being offered for information that leads to an arrest if tipsters provide their information through Crime Solvers.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS(8477).

Herndon townhouse fire caused by overheated laptop computer

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded to a townhouse fire, Dec. 20, at approximately 3 p.m., in the Herndon area of Fairfax County. The townhouse is located at 13265 Coppermill Drive.

Upon their arrival, firefighters said they encountered heavy smoke coming from a three-story townhome. Crews initiated an aggressive interior attack. Crews encountered moderate smoke and fire conditions from the top floor while bringing the fire under control in approximately 30 minutes, preventing any further spreading of the fire. Two occupants were displaced. One of the occupants was transported to Medstar Washington Hospital Burn Center for non-life threatening injuries. Red Cross assistance was declined. Damage is estimated at $50,000.

According to fire investigators, the fire was accidental. A laptop computer left on top of a mattress overheated causing the fire.

Candle causes $150,000 damage to Springfield home

Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department units responded to a house fire, Christmas day at approximately 10:25 p.m., in the West Springfield area of Fairfax County. The single family home is located at 7915 Lobelia Lane.

Firefighters reported heavy smoke coming from the front door and several windows on the first floor of the two-story home upon their arrival. Firefighters said they conducted an aggressive fire attack and brought the fire under control in approximately 15 minutes. The home’s lone occupant escaped from a second floor bedroom after she was alerted by an alarm monitoring company. She escaped unharmed but was evaluated by a paramedic and refused transport. The woman has been displaced and has declined Red Cross support, officials said. There were no injuries.

Damage is estimated at $150,000. According to fire investigators, the fire was accidental. A large diameter candle too close to combustibles on the first floor caused the fire.

Sterling man charged with DUI, hit-and-run, taking vehicle

A Sterling man was arrested Dec. 19 after authorities said he was driving while impaired and hit a parked car in the 1600 block of East Madison Court and left the scene.

Pedro A. Diaz-Cabrera, 24, is charged with two counts of hit-and-run, destruction of property, DUI and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Loudoun County Sheriff’s Dept. deputies later alleged that Diaz-Cabrera took the vehicle he was driving from his landlord without permission.

No injuries were reported.

Virginia State Police respond to nearly 2,000 calls day after Christmas

Virginia State Police said that statewide they received 1,920 calls for service from 12:01 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 26, according to Corinne Geller, spokesperson for VSP.

Of those calls, 686 were crashes, including one that involved a fatality in Campbell County.

In Division VII, which includes Prince William, Loudoun and Fairfax counties and Arlington and Alexandria, officers responded to 328 calls for service. Of those calls 69 were crashes and 46 were disabled vehicles.