Crime

Inmate sentenced in Houtzdale prison riot

Richard Adams, the inmate accused of starting the 2015 riot at the Houtzdale state prison, pleaded guilty Wednesday to counts including aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, riot and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to a total of 15 to 30 years in state prison.
Richard Adams, the inmate accused of starting the 2015 riot at the Houtzdale state prison, pleaded guilty Wednesday to counts including aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, riot and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to a total of 15 to 30 years in state prison. Centre Daily Times, file

The inmate accused of starting a riot at the Houtzdale state prison in April 2015 pleaded guilty Wednesday in Clearfield County Court.

Richard Adams, 35, who has been moved to Benner state prison, was in the yard April 28, 2015, when he threw a baseball in another inmate’s face, knocking him down. He then started kicking the man, according to testimony at the trial of his co-defendant, Norman Wothman.

Adams refused requests to stop walking away and turn around. When he did eventually turn, three officers saw him take a fighting stance.

Corrections Officer Ralph Dickson testified that he tried to put Adams in a bear hug, in an effort to restrain him and take him to the ground. He continually told Adams to “cuff up” or submit to being handcuffed. The three men were able to get him to his knees and tried to get him flat. Dickson said he heard another radio call saying the inmates were coming and then saw a “swarm” of inmates coming at them.

Four officers were injured that day and taken to UPMC Altoona for treatment. The facility was on lockdown for about eight hours.

Adams pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, riot, disorderly conduct and three various counts of criminal conspiracy. President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman sentenced him to a total of 15 to 30 years in state prison.

This will run consecutive to the life sentence Adams is serving for a murder in Philadelphia in 2001. Because Adams has an appeal pending, Ammerman decided to run the new sentence consecutively, according to a court employee. Should the appeal alter Adams’ original sentence, he would still be incarcerated for up to 30 years just on this assault case.

Wothman, 52, decided to plead guilty while he was testifying in his own defense during his trial. He is scheduled to be sentenced for his part in the riot in September.

Yafest Oliver, 27, has also signed a plea agreement and will be sentenced in September.

Three additional inmates have also been charged. Aki D. Jones, 39, and Bahair Stafford, 28, have assault charges in the Court of Common Pleas and a third, Isaiah Samir Lakeem Hall, 25, is awaiting his preliminary hearing.

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