Teen admits she started riot while incarcerated — (Lehigh Valley News)

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Lehigh Valley News

Saturday, September 30, 2006

By RUSS FLANAGAN, The Express-Times

Girl, 16, was at detention center in E. Allen Twp.
EASTON | The most serious charges were dropped Friday against a teenager after she admitted to inciting a riot earlier this year at an East Allen Township juvenile detention facility.The riot broke out about 11 p.m. Aug. 6 and carried on until 1:30 a.m. Aug. 7 at Wings for Life in the Weaversville section of the township. Police said that during the riot, 16-year-old Patrice Brittini Sessions ran from room to room inciting other girls who were locked up in the facility.

Sessions and another girl, Kimberly Alvarado, tossed items around the facility, cursed at staff and tried to pry doors open to escape. One frightened staffer, Tameka Gibson, hid in the employee bathroom and locked the door while Sessions and Alvarado tried forcing their way in. When they couldn’t break down the door, they waved a pair of scissors under the door and threatened to cut Gibson, police said.

Gibson eventually escaped from the bathroom and went to a nearby office, where Sessions threatened to stab her and made a stabbing motion with the scissors, police said.

Sessions, of Harrisburg, was admitted to the facility for assault charges in Dauphin County. Northampton County Judge Paula A. Roscioli told Sessions she was concerned by the violent behavior at her young age.

“You’re very young, and you’re headed down a path of disaster,” Roscioli told her.

Sessions has been in Northampton County Prison since Aug. 8 and has been taking depression medication. Roscioli nearly postponed the guilty plea when Sessions appeared as though she wasn’t following the proceedings.

“I look at you and you look like you’re having a hard time keeping your eyes open,” Roscioli said. “It’s pretty clear to the court that you’re heavily medicated. I want to make sure she understands what she’s doing. That’s essential.”

After a brief discussion with defense attorney Robert Patterson the hearing continued.

Sessions pleaded guilty to making terroristic threats and failure to disperse. In exchange for her plea, prosecutors dropped six counts of aggravated assault and two counts each of disorderly conduct, harassment, reckless endangerment, simple assault. Charges of riot, failure to disperse, attempted escape, possession of weapons for escape and a second count of making terroristic threats were withdrawn.

Roscioli ordered a presentence investigation as well as a mental health and a drug and alcohol evaluation. Sentencing was set for Nov. 13. Sessions faces a maximum of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Patterson asked if Sessions could be housed in the county juvenile detention center until she is sentenced. Assistant District Thomas Carroll said she was barred from being housed in the juvenile facility since she pleaded guilty to the charges as an adult.

Reporter Russ Flanagan can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at rflanagan@express-times.com.