“All my life, I’ve just been too prideful to surrender,” David Adewumi told Centre County Judge Jonathan Grine on Thursday, minutes after he admitted that he had falsely accused county corrections officers of sexually assaulting him.
Adewumi, charged with making three false reports and with institutional vandalism, represented himself through more than half of his one-day trial.
He made it through opening arguments, through the testimony of the state trooper investigating the case, and through testimony of corrections officers who described the events.
They talked about how Adewumi made allegations about three separate incidents, each involving an occasion in which he was strapped into the Centre County Correctional Facility’s restraint chair after infractions such as throwing fecal matter at an officer and breaking a fire sprinkler.
He still denied the incidents.
Then prosecutors broke out the video.
“Looking into my family’s eyes on that last break broke my heart,” Adewumi said.
His father sat stoically behind him in the courtroom, watching as his son’s arguments fell apart in the face of the evidence. No guard touched him except to place shackles on his wrists and ankles, and to firmly but safely secure him to the chair.
One guard he accused of touching his genitals was clearly visible steering the wheeled restraint chair, never getting closer to him than wiping his face with a towel. Another accused corrections officer was shown with his hands in his pockets or arms crossed in every frame. A third was not even present; he was off-duty, fishing, the day the purported assault took place.
At about 3 p.m., an air conditioning malfunction forced a break. As court reconvened, a change took place. Standby counsel Casey McClain took over the main defense chair, and he and Assistant District Attorney Nathan Boob had a quick conference with Grine.
A plea had been reached, but it wasn’t a deal.
Adewumi entered an open plea, meaning he simply admitted to the offenses without bargaining for a certain sentence. The process was emotional on both sides.
“Frankly, this has been a hell of a bad year for him,” said McClain, who told the judge his client “screwed up royally,” but asked for some belief in the good person his client could be.
He wasn’t alone.
Others begged for leniency. Friends from Adewumi’s church, like Linda Ray and Mark Jordan, said the same thing. The young man they saw in the video was not the one they knew from mission trips to Jamaica and Kenya, the boy who was trusted to take care of their children and homes.
His father, Michael Adewumi, told an emotional story of how he and his wife came to America from Nigeria, looking for the best life they could find for their family, which now includes their five children.
“I apologize on behalf of my family,” he told the court and the victims.
On the other side, the accused corrections staff had trouble believing the defendant’s sincerity.
“I don’t believe this was a change of heart. He knew he wasn’t going to win,” said Deputy Warden Joseph Koleno, who credited the success in the case to the prison’s high-tech camera system and good policies to protect inmates and employees.
“This emotion today is too little, too late,” Lt. Jeanna Ananea said.
A sentence is not typically imposed with a plea, but Boob requested the court move directly to sentencing to prevent Adewumi from retracting his plea. McClain did not contest, and Grine agreed.
After hearing from all of the corrections staff, the judge imposed a sentence of 90 days for each of the three false report charges and one institutional vandalism charge, running consecutively, giving him one year in jail.
With 105 days credit for time served, Adewumi has an aggregate sentence of nine months.
But that might not be all of his sentence. Adewumi still faces another charge — the original one that sent him to the county prison in 2013.
No trial date has been set for the case in which Adewumi is accused of stalking a State College Area High School student. Boob said a date would be set soon.