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Somerset County DA to seek death penalty in inmate's murder

Paul Peirce
| Monday, May 14, 2018, 5:33 p.m.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against an inmate accused of beating his cellmate to death at SCI-Somerset in January.

Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser filed the formal notice in the criminal homicide case against Dale Michael Wakefield, 25, of Bucks County, who is already serving a life sentence without parole for the 2013 stabbing death of 71-year-old George Mohr in Doylestown, according to court dockets

Wakefield was charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and assault following the brutal beating death of his cellmate, Joshua Steven Perry, 25, of York County at SCI-Somerset on Jan. 9.

Perry was serving a 5- to 11-year sentence at the prison for severely assaulting his girlfriend's toddler in 2014.

Jail guards discovered Perry dead around 11 a.m., lying beneath the bed in his cell with both hands tied behind his back and a sheet round his neck, state police said in court documents.

Police allege Wakefield broke his neck, while beating him to death.

Wakefield was also sentenced to a separate 5- to 20-year sentence for attempted homicide and assault for beating an inmate at the Bucks County Prison in 2014, according to online court records.

Hauser reported in court documents that security video at the prison showed that Wakefield was the only person who had access to Perry at the time of his death. Wakefield directed guards to Perry's body as food trays were being delivered to the cells, according to court documents.

Hauser reported that Wakefield said he need a lieutenant at the prison and the psychiatric staff, “and my cellie is under the bed, and my attorney info is in my address book.”

Since Perry's beating death, Wakefield has been held at SCI-Greene in Waynesburg, according to on-line dockets. Court dockets indicate that Wakefield is serving as his own attorney in the current homicide case.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib

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