Prison inmate convicted of beating one cellmate, blinding another

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - A jury in Spokane has convicted a state prison inmate accused of blinding a cellmate and beating another cellmate in a gruesome attack in 2010 at Airway Heights Corrections Center.

The jury deliberated for just a few hours Tuesday before finding Michael West Jr., 36, guilty of first- and second degree assault.

Defense attorney Derek Reid had argued that West should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Spokesman-Review reports an earlier jury convicted West of attacking and raping his girlfriend and of first-degree murder for the 2004 killing of 21-year-old Christopher Rentz, who was West's cellmate in the Spokane County Jail. West is not scheduled to be released from state prison until 2048.

The paper says the state Department of Corrections is facing a civil suit filed on behalf of the cellmate blinded in the 2010 attack, after prison officials agreed to transfer West from the maximum security prison in Walla Walla to the medium security prison in Airway Heights.