One of the inmates involved in a riot at Houtzdale state prison was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in Clearfield County Court.
Norman Wothman, 52, currently an inmate of state prison, was one of six men charged with assaulting corrections officers at the facility in April 2015. During his trial in July, he announced he was going to plead guilty while he was testifying in his own defense.
Although Wothman was transported to the Clearfield County Courthouse to participate in his sentencing hearing Tuesday, Wothman refused to come out of the holding cell. Eventually he agreed to come into the courtroom, but when President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman asked him if he wanted to put on the record that he was waiving his right to be present for sentencing, Wothman failed to respond.
When he did speak, he explained that he went to trial in this case “to tell the truth.” He also stated he didn’t “care about the charges or any other charges. I will just plead guilty. I am done.”
“I’m cool with it,” he said several times.
At his request, Wothman was removed from the courtroom so he did not hear District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr.’s recommendations for his sentence.
Shaw requested the judge give Wothman a lengthy sentence to send a message to other inmates that this behavior is not acceptable. He noted Wothman is serving a sentence of 70 to 140 years, meaning the sentence wouldn’t change how long he would be in prison.
After Wothman was returned to the courtroom, Ammerman gave him a consecutive sentence of 35 to 70 years in state prison. Wothman was pleading guilty to three counts each of aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and related charges, including riot.
At the end of the trial, Shaw spoke to the press, saying that two of the officers suffered life altering injuries because of this situation and “it’s not fair to them.” At the time of the incident, there were 500 inmates supervised by only three to five unarmed guards. Shaw explained there are no guard towers with armed officers ready to help them, he said.
The four officers that were injured that day had to be taken to UPMC Altoona for treatment. The facility was on lock down for about eight hours, according to previous reports.
A total of six inmates have been charged in connection to the riot. In August, Richard Adams, 35, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison. This sentence is running consecutive to his current life sentence for a murder in Philadelphia.