Crime

Jurors deadlocked in inmate’s prison riot trial

Jurors in the trial for a one of the five inmates accused of being involved with a Houtzdale state prison riot deliberated for more than five hours but were unable to reach a verdict Tuesday in Clearfield County Court.

Isaiah Samir Lakeem Hall, 26, is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, assault by prisoner, riot, disorderly conduct and criminal conspiracy in connection with an inmate riot at the prison in April 2015. In the aftermath, four corrections officers were taken to UPMC Altoona for treatment and the facility was on lockdown for about eight hours.

Three corrections officers testified Monday to their recollections of the riot, which began after officers approached an inmate beating on another inmate. That inmate, Richard Adams, refused to take the stance so they could handcuff him and instead took a fighting stance.

Two of the injured officers tried to take him to the ground. At this point, several inmates surrounded them and knocked them to the ground. Two of these officers said they were knocked out and couldn’t remember what happened for several minutes.

The third officer testified that he responded to the area of the assault. He was also knocked to the ground where he was repeatedly kicked and punched.

One of the officers suffered numerous bruises, contusions, broken teeth, a concussion, shoulder injuries and a swollen face. He continues to have problems with his shoulder and arm. The second had a laceration that needed eight to 10 staples near his ear, a laceration that needed four staples on the top of his head, a concussion, brain injury and a rib injury. He continues to suffer from headaches and dizziness.

The third victim received a dislocated jaw and a concussion. He sees a neurologist regularly and attends therapy for a speech impediment. He explained because of his severe brain injury, he can’t do any type of police work. If he has another brain injury, he could possibly end up in a coma or lose his ability to speak permanently, he said.

The trial, which was scheduled for four days, moved quickly on Tuesday with the jury beginning deliberations at about noon.

At about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, the jury asked to see the surveillance video of the riot again. As they watched, several of them pointed at the inmate who had been identified as Hall. They asked for a portion of the video be slowed down to frame-by-frame speed. The video was paused when the inmate identified as Hall was facing the camera.

The jury also asked to examine Hall’s boots, which testimony revealed had blood on them that matched one of the victims. After 3 p.m., they asked if they could see a transcript of the testimony of another corrections officer who had positively identified Hall from the video.

This was not possible, but the court was able to replay the testimony from the stenographer’s equipment. During this testimony he said he was positive the inmate in question was Hall because he had worked around Hall for a year.

After another hour of discussing the case, the jury said they were deadlocked. Senior Judge David Grine, who was presiding over the case, read them jury instructions on their situation and asked them to mark on the jury slip what charges they agreed on and which they didn’t. He then sent them back into the jury room.

About 30 minutes later, they said they were deadlocked on all the charges. Grine asked them if continuing to deliberate the next day would help them, and they indicated it wouldn’t. He then excused them.

After the jury left, Ryan Sayers, attorney for Hall, told the press that he was happy the jury took their time and commented that they obviously had a problem identifying Hall in the video.

District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. stated that he plans on retrying the case, which he believes is a straight-forward case with the positive identification of Hall, the video and the DNA evidence.

Hall is already two years past his minimum sentence, Shaw said. Online court documents show Hall was sentenced to five to 15 years in state prison in April 2011 for a robbery he committed in 2010.

Four other inmates have been charged for their part in the riot, but additional charges are pending. Shaw said the delay is because they didn’t want to clog up the system by putting all of the cases through at the same time.

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