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Inmate accused of murder has motions denied

January 26, 2019

An inmate facing the death penalty for allegedly murdering his cellmate asked a Somerset County judge Friday to give him one fewer attorney and more time in the law library.

All of his requests were denied.

Dale Michael Wakefield, 26, is facing homicide charges in the death of his cellmate 25-year-old Joshua Steven Perry on Jan. 9, 2018. Perry was found under his bed in the restricted housing unit at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset with trauma to his head, a bed sheet around his neck and his arms bound. According to state police, Wakefield notified corrections officers about Perry’s body, said his attorney’s telephone number was in his address book and asked for “psych.”

On Friday, Wakefield requested that his standby counsel, Ken Sottile of Carrolltown, be removed from the case. Wakefield said it was his understanding that Sottile, who was appointed by the court, had been in contact with the attorney general’s office about the case.

“This is a major concern,” he said. “There is no trust.”

He was also upset about a lack of communication between him and Sottile. Sottile said he contacted the office with a scheduling question.

President Judge D. Gregory Geary said Sottile is present for the benefit of the court, not Wakefield.

“He has no obligation to come visit you at the prison he has no obligation to do anything on your behalf,” he said. “He’s not your lackey. You represent yourself.”

Sottile said he would like to work with Wakefield by arranged telephone calls or visits, so if he has to take over the case, he will be prepared.

“Let’s make that clear,” Geary said. “That’s you being a nice guy. You are not obligated to do that.”

Sottile asked if he could bill the court if he drove to SCI-Greene to meet with Wakefield. Geary said that requested bill in good faith would be reimbursed.

“The issue is you have an ungrateful defendant that wants to dismiss you for that,” Geary said.

Geary directed Deputy Attorney General Evan Lowry to make sure he sends all correspondence to Wakefield. He told him not to copy Sottile.

Wakefield also asked the judge to order SCI-Greene to give him more time in the law library and more telephone time to talk to witnesses or potential experts. Lowry said the state will not provide him with contact information for prison guards or other inmates.

Wakefield said he was allowed eight to 10 hours a week in the law library at SCI-Somerset, but that time at Greene was more limited. He said he gets two telephone calls a month, which is not enough time to prepare his defense.

“I respectfully request that this get fixed as soon as possible,” Wakefield told the judge.

SCI-Greene Cpl. Adam Crumb explained that extra time in the law library depends on the requests for a given week and the availability of staff. He said that requests for additional phone calls can be made to a board that reviews inmate privileges. Wakefield argued that the process takes time.

Geary explained to Wakefield that as an inmate representing himself, there are going to be limitations due to the fact that he is incarcerated. While he would not order the prison to give him additional time, he said he would recommend that Wakefield receives a minimum of eight hours in the library and six calls a month.

“I don’t see a reason to do any more,” he said. “We can revisit this issue if further problems arise.”

Wakefield also attempted to argue the constitutionally of the criminal homicide charge and his arrest. Geary denied those as well.

He will have another video conference to deal with pretrial issues on Feb. 22.

Wakefield is serving a life sentence without parole for stabbing a homeless veteran 71 times near a train station outside Philadelphia in 2013, according to published reports.

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