BELLEFONTE — A 45-year-old man from Carbon County pleaded guilty Tuesday to refusing to leave the downtown State College riot in November.
The plea by Patrick McLaughlin, 45, of Albrightsville, came the same day he was scheduled to stand trial and a judge ruled that a YouTube video and an Internet photo of him at the riot scene could be shown at trial.
McLaughlin pleaded to misdemeanor counts of failure to disperse and disorderly conduct and a summary count of dangerous burning.
Police got a photo of McLaughlin lighting a shirt on fire during the riot that ensued on the streets of downtown State College after head football coach Joe Paterno was fired in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.
A police officer recognized McLaughlin as the person in the photo, and in custody, police said McLaughlin told them about what he did.
McLaughlin’s attorney, public defender Deborah Lux, said the judge’s decision to allow the video and photo at trial probably factored into McLaughlin’s decision to plead guilty.
“When faced with all the evidence the commonwealth had, he recognized it was in his best interest to go ahead and plead guilty,” she said.
McLaughlin will be in court next for sentencing on Sept. 11.
District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said prosecutors will ask for jail time.
“In these kinds of cases, if someone is setting things on fire downtown in a very crowded place, it is obvious they are only present to cause disorder and danger to our community,” Parks Miller said.
Lux said she’ll ask the judge to let him go on the six days he’s already served in the county jail.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT