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Jury convicts Fed Med inmate for brutally assaulting counselor

By Gene Hartley, digital content editor/producer, ghartley@schurz.com
Edited news release
Published On: Jun 12 2014 05:07:50 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 12 2014 05:08:02 PM CDT
Begay, Willard, Fed Med assault

Willard Begay (Greene County jail)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -

A federal jury on Thursday convicted an inmate at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield for punching a counselor in the face and throwing a computing at the counselor’s face.  Willard Begay, 34, faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years for the assault, on top of the sentence that he was already serving.

Evidence in the trial indicated Michael Williams, a counselor at the prison facility, met with Begay on Oct. 1, 2012, to discuss the friction that Begay was having with fellow inmates.  Prison officials had decided to move Begay to another unit in order to eliminate the brewing conflict between Begay and fellow inmates.

At the conclusion of their meeting, Williams was attempting to secure Begay to move him to the new unit.  Williams grabbed Begay’s left arm in order to handcuff him, when Begay abruptly turned toward the counselor and punched him in the face with a closed fist.

Williams lost his balance and fell back a few feet. While he was still dazed from the punch, Begay removed a printer from a table in the office, raised it above his head, and smashed the printer onto the counselor’s face.

Williams radioed for assistance and correctional officers entered the room and handcuffed Begay after a struggle. Williams was treated at a hospital emergency room. A physician determined he sustained an orbital floor fracture. The physician closed the wound with sutures and recommended Williams see a plastic surgeon.

The U.S. District Court jury deliberated for two hours before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Douglas Harpool.  The trial began Wednesday.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

The FBI investigated the case.

Online court records show Begay and the U.S. Attorney's Office reached an agreement a year ago for Begay to plead guilty, but a judge didn't accept the agreement, leading to the trial this week.