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Michael West assault trial underway

By Jeff Humphrey, KXLY4 Reporter , jeffhu@kxly.com
Rob Kauder, Internet Content Manager, robk@kxly.com
Published On: Feb 19 2013 01:35:32 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 19 2013 10:44:15 PM CST
Michael West
SPOKANE, Wash. -

In graphic testimony at his assault trial Tuesday, it was revealed that convicted killer Michael West allegedly chanted "I am God, I am Satan, you will now bow before me" before gouging a fellow prison inmate's eyes out with his thumbs.

Opening statements began Tuesday morning for a 2010 assault in which West gouged out the eyes of Chad Bolstad at the Airway Heights Corrections Center. The jurors are being asked to sort through the facts of the case to determine if West was just really mean or if he was mentally ill at the time of his crimes.

West was already doing time for stabbing and raping his girlfriend when he killed his cellmate inside the Spokane County Jail back in 2004. Then, shortly after his 2010 transfer to the Airway Heights Correction Center, West almost killed a second prisoner, Chad Bolstad. The incident happened just after the lights went out in their housing unit. West timed his attack for 10:10 p.m. on Oct. 10, 2010.

"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 Tuesday morning.

Witnesses said that West, who had been on a religious rant most of that Sunday, then attacked Bolstad inside their cell while a third inmate screamed for help.

"During this time period, after he had beaten Mr. Bolstad and Mr. Bolstad lay lifeless, Mr. West began to gouge Mr. Bolstad's eyes out with his thumbs and he kept ranting 'Give me the apple, give me the apple,'" Steinmetz said.

West then turned his attention to his other cellmate, Gary Welch who did bow to West's demands but it didn't do him much good.

"Mr. West then turned and then put a towel around Mr. Welch's neck and began to strangle him," Steinmetz said.

Welch managed to push a panic button that brought a group of corrections officers to the cell and who pulled the injured inmates to safety.

Derek Reid, West's defense attorney, doesn't deny the attacks and said a video recorded in West's new special management cell, right after the attack, will show why West should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

"You'll see how he was acting, you, first hand that night will get the opportunity to see the behavior, to hear his words," Reid said.

Jurors will also have a chance to hear from the victims, including Bolstad, who lost both of his eyes in this attack, when they take the stand Wednesday.

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