Hearing delayed in Benner state prison incident

lfalce@centredaily.comApril 9, 2014 

A hearing on an alleged December prison attack was set to start, but stalled at the last minute.

Derrick Houdershield, 26, is charged with several felonies in connection with the Dec. 7 incident at the State Correctional Institution at Benner Township.

The incident injured several guards less than two weeks before then-warden Marirosa Lamas was removed in connection with the July 2013 attack on a female employee at Rockview.

Assistant District Attorney Erin Bloxham was ready to present the case against Houdershield, with her witnesses, including employees still on medical leave, sequestered outside the courtroom. Then, defense attorney Patrick Klena asked for a continuance. His client, he said, wanted to pursue and call witnesses on his behalf, and he needed two weeks to prepare.

Bloxham was not happy with the request. Charges in the four-month-old case were filed March 10, and the defendant was arraigned March 31, giving him plenty of time to explore the possibility of calling witnesses.

District Judge Allen Sinclair was not happy either, but did grant the continuance.

“It’s an inherent right,” he told Bloxham.

The hearing was rescheduled for April 23. Houdershield faces six counts of aggravated assault, two counts of assault by a prisoner, and a misdemeanor count of institutional vandalism.

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