DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty in the stabbing death of a homeless veteran near a train station outside Philadelphia last summer.
Dale Wakefield, 21, of Doylestown, pleaded guilty Thursday in Bucks County to first-degree murder in a deal with prosecutors who had vowed to seek capital punishment.
Wakefield, who apologized in court for his actions, told reporters outside the courtroom that he took the deal because he "didn't want the death penalty."
"This was a strong first-degree murder case," prosecutor Michelle Henry said, noting that Wakefield stabbed George Mohr 71 times in the face.
"Today's plea is important because it ensures the community's safety," Henry said. "As a result of what happened today, Dale Wakefield will remain behind bars for the rest of his life."
Prosecutors said Wakefield had been out celebrating his birthday before he stabbed 71-year-old George Mohr with a pocket knife outside the Doylestown train station on July 3.
Mohr's sister, Kathy Driscoll, called the victim a "kind, generous, caring" man and tearfully recounted his Army service and subsequent battles with schizophrenia.
"My brother is at peace," she said. "I am struggling to find peace."
Judge Rea Boylan also sentenced Wakefield to 5½ to 20 years in prison on an assault conviction in an attack on a fellow inmate in February while he was awaiting trial.