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Jury finds West guilty in assault case

By Jeff Humphrey, KXLY4 Reporter , jeffhu@kxly.com
Rob Kauder, Internet Content Manager, robk@kxly.com
Published On: Feb 26 2013 05:06:52 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 26 2013 08:40:03 PM CST
Michael West
SPOKANE, Wash. -

After three and a half hours of deliberation, a jury found Michael West guilty of assaulting two fellow inmates at the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Oct. 2010.

West was on trial for assaulting two cellmates, Gary Welch and Chad Bolstad, while he was being held at Airway Heights Corrections Center. West reportedly gouged out Bolstad's eyes with his thumbs.

In their deliberations, the jury found there were aggravating factors in the case, which will lead to an exceptional sentence that would keep West in prison for the rest of his life.

The family of one of the victims, Chad Bolstad, was in the courtroom when the verdict was read. They wept when the verdict was read. Bolstad, who was blinded by the attack, listened to the verdict over the phone.

West's defense attorney had asked the jury to consider finding West not guilty by reason of insanity.

On Oct. 10, 2010, after lights out at the corrections center, West turned to his cellmate, Bolstad, and told him,"'Worship me like a God or I'll smash you in the face,'" Welch recounted on the witness stand during the trial.

"Mr. West came over to Mr. Bolstad and said, 'I am God, I am Satan, you will bow to me.' Mr. Bolstad wouldn't do this, he wouldn't bow to Mr. West," deputy prosecutor Larry Steinmetz told the court during opening statements in the trial.

After West's declaration to Bolstad he punched him to the floor and then jumped up and down on his head, Welch said.

"The way Chad was laying I thought he was dead, and then proceeded to just stop strangling him and then just literally pushed his fingers inside of his skull, like inside of his head," he said.

After assaulting Bolstad and blinding him, West turned on Welch.

"I was terrified; I was scared to death. I really thought I was going to die but I got off the bunk to try and stop the situation and I just remember Mr. West turning around and looking at me and said 'Get on the bunk bitch or I'll kill you,'" he said.

West then told Welch to slit his wrist with a disposable razor in their cell or he would do the same to him. West then took a towel, wrapped it around Welch's neck and began strangling him, but not before Welch was able to push a panic button that alerted corrections officers, who were able to get the two injured inmates out of the cell.

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