Portsmouth hospital stabbing suspect charged by Navy
By Kara Driscoll | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: July 25, 2014
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The suspect accused of stabbing a fellow sailor at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in June was formally charged by the Navy on Wednesday.
Nearly seven weeks after the stabbing, Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur Harwell was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault, said Greg McCormack, the lawyer representing him. Harwell is accused of attacking Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Powell with a knife in the barracks at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center on June 6.
McCormack said the government has refused repeated requests for a copy of the investigation reports or any discovery on the case.
"It is very difficult for my office to prepare a defense to these charges without having access to the reports of the investigation," McCormack said.
Originally, Harwell faced federal charges of assault with intent to commit murder and assault with a dangerous weapon, but charges were dismissed during a court hearing in Norfolk on June 12.
Immediately afterward, Harwell was taken into custody by the Navy, and he has been held at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake since mid-June. The Uniform Code of Military Justice requires that service members held in confinement be arraigned within 120 days.
Powell, who was stabbed eight times, was released from the hospital and is recovering at home with family members. Harwell was arrested in Virginia Beach after a nine-hour manhunt; the medical center was locked down for most of the day.
McMormack expects an Article 32 hearing — the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing — to be scheduled soon.