Monday, July 15, 2013

MD officials apologize Bucks murder suspect's release, blame 'data entry' errors

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Dale Wakefield following his arraignment 

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services on Monday apologized for releasing a Bucks County murder suspect, blaming the mistake on a “data entry” issue and “complications” involving out-of-state warrants and detainers.

Doylestown resident Dale Wakefield, 21, was free for about four hours Thursday after he was released from a Baltimore jail where he was in custody and awaiting extradition to Bucks County to face murder charges in the July 3 stabbing death of George Mohr, 71.

“The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services regrets the data-entry issue that led to the mistaken release of Dale Wakefield,” acting spokeswoman Erin Julius said. “Complications arose due to the nature of out-of-state warrants and detainers.”
Julius did not elaborate on what errors or complications occurred. The prison department is evaluating its processes and it expected to take “appropriate disciplinary actions” in light of the error, she added.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, who initially called the prison “inept" and "irresponsible” for releasing Wakefield, said he is satisfied with the apology.
“Fair enough — no question, they screwed up,” he said. “I’m willing to believe it was a mistake, but it was more than a mistake, it was sloppy, sloppy work.”
Heckler added he hopes the prison will pursue a deeper investigation into what happened. He has left messages with the Baltimore District Attorney’s office, but he has not received a return call, Heckler said. He also plans to forward the Bucks County Detectives' full report on the mistaken release to the Baltimore DA.
The Baltimore City Detention Center released Wakefield early Thursday morning, citing a judge’s order the previous day. The order, however, also required the jail to hold Wakefield if there were any other charges against him.
Bucks County had filed an arrest warrant on July 4 charging Wakefield initially with attempted murder and related crimes and he was arrested that day in a Baltimore hotel. The charges against him were upgraded to first-degree murder on July 10 following the death of Mohr, who spent time in Philadelphia and Doylestown.
Dale Wakefield 
Wakefield waived extradition in the case on July 8, essentially agreeing to return to Bucks County, according to officials. Heckler said the order included wording that Wakefield should be held until July 18.
But Maryland District Court Judge C. Yvonne Holt-Stone ordered Wakefield released Wednesday morning, according to a copy of the order obtained by the Baltimore Sun newspaper. The bottom of the order reads: "NOTE: This release applies only to the case listed above. Before release, check for detainers. If Defendant is committed for any other reason, hold Defendant pursuant to that commitment."
There was no further explanation on the order, and staff said last week the judge is on vacation.
Sometime after 2 a.m. Thursday, Heckler said a newly released Wakefield called his mother and said he was going to his sister’s dormitory at Coppin State University in Maryland. Wakefield's sister had contacted police after her brother allegedly called her and confessed to the slaying July 3. Wakefield had been living at a South Clinton Street apartment his sister rents.
Wakefield’s mother immediately called Bucks County Detective Martin McDonough and told him that her son was freed and headed to his sister's, according to authorities. McDonough contacted the Baltimore homicide unit which re-arrested Wakefield about 6 a.m. in the area of a Coppin State dorm elevator, according to police.
Wakefield is in Bucks County prison without bail awaiting a preliminary hearing tentatively scheduled for Aug. 21. Bucks County Detectives say Wakefield stabbed Mohr near the Doylestown train station at least 70 times.
Heckler believes the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s office has released Mohr’s body, but he is unsure what arrangements his family, which lives in Connecticut, has made.

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