SPOKANE -- A Spokane man who is no stranger to serious brawls in jail cells has done it again, and now an investigation has been launched to find out why he was put with other prisoners.
Six years ago, Spokane's Michael West called himself "Lucifer" and killed his cellmate in the Spokane County Jail. At the time, he was serving a sentence for rape and assault.
West beat the man, cut him with a razor blade, and strangled him with bed linens.
On Sunday, West attacked another cellmate while in a temporary cell at the Airway Heights Correction Center, gouging the man's eye out.
West started a brawl with inmate Chad Bolstad. Police say West punched and kicked him and went for Bolstad's eyes. West pulled the right eye from its socket and damaged it enough that Bolstad is now completely blind.
While he was doing that, police say West yelled to another inmate, Gary Welch, "I'm Lucifer. Bow down to me. You're next!"
Police say West tried to gouge Welch's eyes as well. But Welch was able to fend him off.
That's when officers say West took a towel and began to strangle him. Jail guards stormed in shortly after.
No one from Olympia or Airway Heights would officially tell KREM 2 News why anyone was ever put in a cell with West after the 2004 incident. The Department of Corrections does not have a standing policy about an inmate who harms or kills their cell mate and then is not allowed to have another cellmate ever again.
West is no stranger to violence behind bars. West's rap sheet dates back to his early teens. He has been transferred from one jail to a prison and back 26 times. After spending a year in prison for a 2002 robbery, West was finishing the last six months of his sentence at Brownestone, Spokane's work release jail, when he disappeared from his job at a Carl's Jr. restaurant.
"He did call in at one point in time, remorseful he had escaped, tried to talk him into coming back and turning himself in. But he chose not to and we have had a warrant out since his escape," said Corrections Supervisor Debra Conner.
Then in 2004, West killed his cellmate. The family of the murdered inmate sued Spokane County for negligence. In 2007, they settled for $180,000.
Yet prison officials transferred him from Washington State Penitentiary to Airway Heights last month putting him in a medium security cell with two other men.
West is not scheduled to be released until 2048. Investigators say they have enough evidence to charge him with two counts of attempted murder.