Preliminary hearings scheduled for 3 inmates charged in prison riot

Three additional state prison inmates charged for their involvement in a riot at SCI Houtzdale in April 2015 were scheduled for preliminary hearings Thursday.

Bahair Stafford, 29, is charged with aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, riot, simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment. After a preliminary hearing before District Judge James Hawkins, all charges were held to court.

Aki D. Jones, 40, is charged aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, riot, four counts of simple assault, disorderly conduct and four summary counts of harassment. He waived his right to a hearing.

Isaiah Samir Lakeem Hall, 25, is charged with three counts each of aggravated assault, assault by prisoner and simple assault, as well as riot. His hearing was continued to a later date.

The charges stem from assaults that occurred after two corrections officers tried to break up a fight between two inmates. Of the five officers assaulted by inmates, four of them were taken to UPMC Altoona for treatment.

Three other inmates charged are Norman Wothman, 52, who pleaded guilty while he was testifying at his recent trial, and Yafest Oliver, 27, and Richard Adams, 35, who signed plea agreements. Oliver and Adams are scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 9.

According to the affidavits of probable cause, on April 28, 2015, Adams and another inmate were engaged in a physical altercation in the south yard inside the prison. A corrections officer reported seeing the other inmate lying on the ground and Adams kicking him in the head and face area. This officer contacted the control office to report the assault.

The officer then went toward Adams as he began to walk away from the victim. Other officers arrived to assist the first corrections officer. As they approached him, they repeated several orders to Adams in regard to being handcuffed. Adams refused all orders, took his coat off and threw it onto the ground. He then took a fighting stance and stated “you’re not cuffing me.”

The officers took Adams to the ground and attempted to restrain him with handcuffs. Several inmates stepped in and began assaulting the five officers. They punched, hit and kicked them multiple times in their heads, faces and bodies.

Hall kicked three of the officers several times about the head and body while they were on the ground. Adams also kicked, stomped and punched one of these same officers. Oliver also struck this same CO with closed fists about the head and body. That officer suffered a laceration on his head about three centimeters long, facial contusions, a concussion and a sinus fracture.

Jones was observed punching one of the officers in the head multiple times and wrestling him to the ground, the affidavits said.

Stafford allegedly kicked one of the officers several times in the head and body while he was on the ground.

While this was happening, Wothman allegedly struck one of the officers in the head with a closed fist, knocking him to the ground. Oliver allegedly struck this same officer with closed fists. This officer was transported to UPMC Altoona for treatment of his injuries that included a concussion, contusions on his face and pain in his right arm.

Oliver also allegedly kicked and punched another officer while he was on the ground. This victim was also taken to UPMC Altoona for treatment. Oliver allegedly struck a fourth officer with closed fists to the back of his head. Oliver then allegedly grabbed his radio and hit him in the head with it. This officer suffered injuries to his neck, right arm, right wrist and right rib area.

After the victims were removed from the south yard, the inmates allegedly refused to follow directions from the staff to return to their housing units. Wothman allegedly threatened the other inmates who were attempting to leave as the officers requested. Wothman then encouraged the other inmates to remain in the yard and assault the other officers who were releasing the inmates back to their housing units, according to the reports.