Dale Wakefield, 21, pleaded guilty Thursday, acknowledging that he stabbed George Mohr, 71, on July 3, 2013. Mohr, who had served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, was killed near the Doylestown train station in Bucks County.
Wakefield's lawyer said the young man grew up with an abusive father who denied him adequate treatment when he suffered a head injury at 13 in a dirt bike crash. Instead, Deborah Weinman said, the father insisted on his son's return to bike racing.
"If you want a formula to create a rage-filled kid, this is it," Weinman said, quoting a doctor who examined Wakefield.
Investigators said Wakefield, who had been celebrating his 21st birthday in Doylestown, encountered Mohr at a bus shelter near the train station and stabbed him more than 70 times. He was arrested in Baltimore, where his sister is a college student, only to be released by mistake and then re-arrested.
Wakefield's plea agreement spared him the death penalty.
"The significance of this sentence is that it makes the community safer," said First Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry. "Dale Wakefield will never see the outside of a prison.
Kathy Driscoll, Mohr's brother, described him as "kind and generous and caring." She said he was schizophrenic and wandered around the country, although he liked to come back to Doylestown, where he had lived as a child.
Wakefield also pleaded guilty Thursday to assaulting another inmate in the Bucks County Jail with a pen.