Inmate pleads guilty in deadly Anamosa State Penitentiary attack

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JONES COUNTY, Iowa — An Iowa prisoner accused of killing two corrections workers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary back in March has pleaded guilty to all charges related to the incident.

A plea hearing was held Friday morning at the Jones County Courthouse, where Thomas Woodard Jr. pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, one count of kidnapping, and one count of attempted murder. The judge accepted his plea.

Investigators say Woodard and another inmate at the prison, Michael Dutcher, were responsible for the deaths of nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland. The prison employees were killed on March 23rd during an attempted escape.

They also were accused of holding another prison worker hostage and seriously injuring another inmate, who was trying to help Schulte and McFarland, during the attack.

In Friday morning’s hearing, Woodard admitted to using a hammer to attack McFarland and Schulte.

Officials have previously said the hammers Woodard and Dutcher used in the attack were checked out from a prison tool shop.

Dutcher’s trial was set to begin last week but has been pushed back. A trial setting conference was scheduled for earlier this week, but the result of that has not been posted in online court records.

According to Iowa law, the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

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