Civilian charges dropped against Portsmouth Naval stabbing suspect


by 13News Now

Posted on June 12, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Updated Friday, Jun 13 at 3:28 PM

UPDATE 6/13: Petty Officer 3rd Class Wilbur G. Harwell appeared at an Initial Review Hearing at the brig Friday afternoon. Harwell is being held in temporary administrative segregation, which is standard operating procedure for new detainees. A court date for Harwell has not been set.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin D. Powell, has been upgraded to very good condition and remains at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, officials said.  

The service member being questioned by NCIS agents has not been charged.

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PORTSMOUTH -- The man accused of stabbing a fellow sailor at the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center barracks last Friday is now in Navy custody and another service member is being questioned.

Civilian charges were dropped against Wilbur Harwell, 26, who appeared before a federal magistrate judge at 2 p.m. Thursday and he will now be tried by the Navy.

Harwell was released from the custody of U.S. Marshals and turned over to the Navy.  He was placed in pretrial confinement at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake pending court-martial charges.

Harwell is accused of stabbing CO2 Justin Powell in the chest and neck after a fight in a barracks on Friday morning. At last update earlier in the week, doctors at Portsmouth Naval Hospital said Powell was in good condition and expected to recover.

The Navy said Thursday they are questioning another service member they say aided in Harwell's escape.

NCIS agents said they believe the service member assisted Harwell in leaving the installation before the gates were closed and drove him to Virginia Beach.

Harwell was apprehended at an Oceanfront hotel about 5 p.m. Friday by Navy, local and federal officials in Virginia Beach.

The identity of the service member being questioned, and further details of the NCIS investigation, have not been released.