A Wasco State Prison inmate has been convicted of first-degree murder in the strangulation death of his cellmate.

A Kern County jury on Thursday returned a guilty verdict against 38-year-old Michael Beardsley after one hour of deliberation, according to prosecutors.  

Beardsley faces more than 50 years to life in prison at his April 4 sentencing.

According to a District Attorney's office news release, correctional officers heard inmates yelling "man down" at about 3:05 p.m. Feb. 7, 2017. Officers found Beardsley standing in his cell near the door and his cellmate, James Morris, unresponsive and face down in a puddle of blood.

Medical staff removed a noose from Morris' neck, the release said. Cause of death was determined to be strangulation by ligature. Morris also suffered blunt force trauma to the head and multiple broken ribs.

Beardsley wrote several letters in which he admitted to killing Morris, according to prosecutors.

In these letters, sent to the mother of Beardsley's daughter, Beardsley wrote, "I just killed a man," "I killed my celly because he washed his hands, LOL, crazy right," and "It's like they are mad at me for killing that fool at their front door," the release said. 

During a meeting with DA's office representatives in June, Beardsley said he sent them a demand for trial because, "I have been waiting for trial for a year and a half on a murder that I committed in the institution," according to the release. 

Prosecutors said Beardsley has three "strike" offenses: two for felony gang participation, one for assault with a deadly weapon.

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