Inmate waives jury trial in murders of Iowa prison nurse, correctional officer


Michael Dutcher (WHO 13)

JONES COUNTY, Iowa – One of the inmates charged with murder in the deaths of a prison nurse and a correctional officer at the Anamosa State Penitentiary back in March has waived his right to a jury trial.

During a hearing Tuesday, Judge Fae Hoover Grinde accepted Michael Dutcher’s waiver and confirmed his bench trial will commence on August 3 at 9:00 a.m.

Dutcher and Thomas Woodard Jr. are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland. The prison employees were killed on March 23rd during an attempted escape by Dutcher and Woodard.

Thomas Woodard Jr.

The inmates are also charged with kidnapping and attempted murder for allegedly holding an additional prison worker hostage and seriously injuring another inmate, who was trying to help Schulte and McFarland, during the attack.

Officials say the men used hammers in the attack that were checked out from a prison tool shop.

Woodard is scheduled to go on trial September 21st in Linn County. The venue was changed due to pre-trial publicity in the case.

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