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3 inmates guilty in fatal Wasco Prison 'beatdown'

Three inmates were found guilty of the fatal beating of another inmate at the Wasco State Prison last year.

Benjamin Kolehmainen, 30; Tyler Douglas, 25 and Joshua Mitchell, 45, were all convicted of assault by an inmate with force likely to cause great bodily injury, and Kolemainen and Douglas also were convicted for involuntary manslaughter. All were acquitted of second-degree murder, and Mitchell was also acquitted for involuntary manslaughter.

The victim of the March 7, 2022, attack was Michael Iverson, who had been at the prison for two weeks and was moved into a dormitory housing unit, according to the county District Attorney's Office.. The dormitory housed over 100 inmates who were assigned to a bunk but not a cell. After being in the dormitory for less than two hours, the three inmates attacked Iverson simultaneously, the statement released by the office said.

Correctional Officers quickly broke up the fight, but Iverson suffered severe brain and neck injuries. A Kern County pathologist testified that this is one of the worst cases of blunt force trauma he has seen. The case of death was determined as blunt force trauma to the head and neck and the manner of death was homicide.

District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer commented on the conviction: "While I am disappointed with this verdict, I respect the jurors' decision. A 3-on-1 beatdown in prison resulting in death of an inmate is not uncommon and this type of brutality perpetrated by those with prior acts of violence should be severely punished."

Sentencing is set for Tuesday, March 19. Douglas faces up to 25 years to life in prison, Mitchell faces up to 12 years in prison, and Kolehmainen faces up to 11 years in prison.


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