Victims take stand at West assault trial
Two men, locked in a cell with a deranged killer, took the stand Wednesday to testify against Michael West, the man who attacked them.
West continues to appear in Spokane Superior Court under heavy guard and showing no emotion, despite the graphic testimony from his alleged victims, Gary Welch and Chad Bolstad, the man whose eyes he gouged with his bare hands.
Wednesday afternoon prosecutors rested their case in this trial, but not before jurors heard firsthand testimony of what it was like to be locked inside a cell with a man the defense claims is criminally insane.
"Coming back to the unit from a visit and getting a cup of coffee and I believe I was going to sit down and do some bead work," Bolstad recalled.
Fortunately there was another inmate in that darkened cell the night Bolstad was attacked, Gary Welch, and he'll never forget the incident.
"He looked at Bolstad, who was beading, and he said 'Worship me like a God or I'll smash you in the face' and he really didn't give Chad a chance to do anything," Welch said.
Welch says the much larger West punched Bolstad to the floor and then jumped up and down on the unconscious inmate's head.
"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.
Welch told the jury he tried to help his injured cellmate but West told Welch he was next on the hit list.
"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.
Even after Welch backed down, it still wasn't enough to satisfy West and that's when Welch was given a chilling ultimatum.
"He said 'I'm gonna give you two choices. You either slit your own wrist, or I'm going to do the same to you,'" he said.
At that point Welch asked West for the small disposable razor inmates have in their cells; he was more than ready to take his chances with a surgeon rather than deal with a guy who had just gouged somebody's eyes out.
West is hoping the jury will find him not guilty by reason of insanity, but if that happens, he won't be getting out of prison any time soon. His sentences for previous crimes, including murder, will keep him in prison until he's about 70.
Prosecutors are apparently trying this case to make sure West is never released from prison.
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