CLEARFIELD – An inmate involved in a riot at SCI Houtzdale refused to appear in court for his sentencing hearing Tuesday during sentencing court in Clearfield County.
The behavior of Norman Wothman, 52, currently an inmate of state prison, during his trial was also unusual. He announced that he was pleading guilty to all charges while he was testifying in his own trial in July.
On Tuesday he had his standby attorney, Joseph Ryan, running back and forth from a holding cell at the courthouse to the courtroom with messages for Judge Fredric J. Ammerman.
At first Wothman stated he did not want to be in the courtroom for sentencing because he didn’t want to hear District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr.’s argument.
It was determined that Wothman should be colloquied to put his waiver of appearance for sentencing on the record. Ryan returned to advise Wothman of this.
In a few minutes, he reported that not only did Wothman not want to be in court for a colloquy, he also did not want to sign a waiver of his appearance either. But after Ryan talked to Wothman again, he did agree to come into the courtroom.
Ammerman asked Wothman if it was alright to do the colloquy, but he didn’t respond at all. After a few minutes, he stated “I don’t care about the charges or any other charges. I will just plead guilty. I am done.”
He went on to say that he only took his case to trial because he “just wanted to tell the truth.” He made other comments of “I’m no longer afraid of the consequences” and “I’m cool with it.” After he was asked if he wanted Ryan to represent him, Wothman stated “I don’t care what you do.”
Wothman was taken out again in order for Shaw to state his suggestions for Wothman’s sentence.
Shaw commented that the riot at SCI Houtzdale took place shortly after the riots in Baltimore and had racial overtones. He reminded the judge of the video evidence that showed how badly the corrections officers were assaulted.
Wothman hit an officer that was trying to restore order “so hard his hat flew off,” Shaw said. The officers were permanently injured and it was “fortunate an officer is not dead” because that is how violent it was, he said.
Shaw asked Ammerman to send a message to other inmates who could assault corrections officers. Wothman is currently serving a sentence of 70 to 140 years and what he received wouldn’t actually change how long he’ll be in prison, but a consecutive sentence would tell inmates that this behavior is not acceptable, he said.
Wothman was then returned to the courtroom to hear his sentence. Wothman pleaded guilty to three counts each of aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy/aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, criminal conspiracy/assault by prisoner, as well as one count each of riot, criminal conspiracy/riot, simple assault, criminal conspiracy/simple assault, disorderly conduct, criminal conspiracy/disorderly conduct and harassment.
Ammerman sentenced Wothman to a total of 35 to 70 years in state prison with this sentence running consecutive to Wothman’s current sentence.