Houtzdale inmate pleads guilty to assaulting corrections officers

A state prison inmate accused of assaulting two corrections officers pleaded guilty Monday in Clearfield County Court.

Patrick Lee Wagner, 28, an inmate of SCI Houtzdale, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of aggravated assault before President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman. Ammerman sentenced him to three to six years in state prison. This new sentence will run consecutive to his current five- to 15-year sentences for robbery, burglary and assault from Lancaster County in 2012.

The charges stem from an incident at the prison on March 2 when Wagner hit one CO with a chair and strangled another while threatening to kill him.

Prior to sentencing Wagner told Ammerman that he knew “what I did wasn’t smart.” He stated that he just wants to go home and be with his family. Wagner then asked Ammerman to give him a concurrent sentence explaining that he was on psychiatric medicine at the time of the incident that was not working. He said he is bipolar, suffers from blackouts and has an attention deficit disorder.

Ammerman stated that of Wagner’s four previous cases, three include assault charges. He explained he gave Wagner a consecutive sentence because of his extensive history of assault.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, the victim told the investigating officer that Wagner wanted to shower that day but needed some items including a towel. Wagner asked if he could speak with the laundry man. He was advised by the CO that he needed to shower or lock up and the CO said he would speak to the laundry man for him. At this point Wagner started down the steps of the block, swearing. The officer told Wagner again to shower or lock up. Wagner then said to him, “If you are gonna call me in, tell ’em to suit up and come get me.”

The CO then locked the door for the laundry man because he was worried Wagner was going to start a fight with him if he didn’t have his items. He continued to tell Wagner to either shower or lock up. Wagner started up the stairs and turned toward the showers while yelling and swearing. The victim said he thought Wagner was then going to shower. Instead Wagner spun around and came at the officer. The officer moved quickly as he felt a chair bounce off the floor and hit the back of his left calf. He turned around to see Wagner grab another chair and swing it at him. The victim was able to block the chair with his left arm. Wagner then lunged at him, grabbed him around the collar of his shirt and started pushing him backward.

At that point another CO arrived and took Wagner to the floor in an attempt to gain control of him. While they were on the floor, Wagner choked the second CO.

This second victim told the investigating officer that when he arrived on the scene, he saw Wagner attempt to strike the first CO. He gave orders for him to cuff up and Wagner refused. When he grabbed Wagner to gain control of him, they went to the floor. Wagner then put him in a headlock and stated that he was going to choke him out and kill him, this victim said. Once the officer was able to free himself, he assisted the other CO in controlling Wagner until help arrived.

The second victim said he suffered a bruised elbow, a scratch to the left eyelid and some minor bruises. The first victim suffered an injury to his left forearm and calf.

Statements from other officers and video surveillance footage confirmed these events.

When Wagner was questioned about the incident, he claimed the first CO threatened to write him up, approached him in an aggressive manner and swore at him. At this point, Wagner told the investigating officer that he “blacked out.” He further explained that he felt disrespected and “just raged.”