Competency of Inmate Allegedly Involved in SCI Houtzdale Riot Being Questioned

CLEARFIELD – The competency of one of the state prison inmates allegedly involved with a riot at the State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale is being questioned.

Isaiah Samir Lakeem Hall, 27, is charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, assault by prisoner, riot, disorderly conduct and criminal conspiracy in connection with an inmate riot at the prison in April of 2015.

In the aftermath, four corrections officers were taken to UPMC Altoona for treatment and the facility was on lockdown for about eight hours.

In March of 2017, a trial in this case ended in a mistrial after the jurors were unable to come to a unanimous verdict after five hours of deliberation.

Since then, the case has been continued and more recently, Hall underwent a psychological evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial again.

During motions court this week, this evaluation was discussed.

Judge Fredric J. Ammerman commented that Hall appeared normal until his second jury selection when he was “acting like a zombie.”

Hall had an evaluation but the doctor said he could not make a determination if he was competent or not although he did believe Hall was just acting.

In his report, the doctor suggested that Hall be observed for a long period of time to better understand his condition. It was noted that Hall has been in solitary confinement in state prison for three years.

First Assistant District Attorney Ryan Dobo commented that he thinks “it is clear he is playing games” but showed a concern for possible appeal issues if the case does make it to trial without a more thorough examination of Hall.

Ammerman granted a petition for another mental health evaluation for Hall, who now will be sent to a state hospital for observation.

Hall’s case was scheduled for jury selection on April 12. This was cancelled and will be rescheduled pending the outcome of the evaluation.

Three other inmates have already pleaded guilty and have been sentenced for this incident.

Richard Adams, 36, received a total of 15 to 30 years in state prison, Norman Wothman, 54, was given 35 to 70 years in state prison and Bahair Stafford, 30, will serve five to 15 years in state prison.

During Hall’s trial, testimony came from three corrections officers injured during the riot.

One of the officers suffered numerous bruises, contusions, broken teeth, a concussion, shoulder injuries and his face swelled. He continues to have problems with his shoulder and arm, according to his testimony.

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, he reported.

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 testified.

The assaults began after Adams, who was assaulting another inmate in the yard, refused to be handcuffed and took a fighting stance.

When two of the officers tried to take Adams to the ground, the other inmates surrounded them, knocked them down and began punching and kicking them.

A third officer was also attacked when he responded to the area.

A video of the incident allegedly showed Hall’s involvement and DNA from the blood on his boots allegedly matched one of the victims.

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