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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — One of the inmates charged with killing an Anamosa prison officer and a registered nurse in March waived his right for a jury trial Tuesday and a judge will decide his verdict.
Michael Dutcher, 28, filed a written waiver to have a bench or non-jury trial and also confirmed that decision to 6th Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover during Tuesday’s hearing in Linn County. The bench trial remains set for Aug. 3 in Jones County District Court.
A few weeks ago, the other inmate charged in the killings, Thomas Allen Woodard, 39, who has a trial set for Sept. 21 that was already moved to Linn County, asked the court if the trial could be moved again to different county because there also may be conflicts in Linn, considering both are exposed to many of the same media outlets.
Hoover said she would make inquiries with other judicial districts, but most aren’t taking outside cases because of backed-up trial schedules resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and attempted murder.
The two inmates are accused of killing correctional officer Robert McFarland, 46, of Ely, and nurse Lorena Schulte, 50, of Cedar Rapids, during what authorities said was a failed attempt to escape from the Anamosa State Penitentiary on March 23.
According to court documents, the inmates are accused of attacking the two prison workers with hammers. McFarland and Schulte suffered severe head injuries.
Another inmate, McKinley Roby, suffered injuries to his head while he attempted to help staff members.
The assault started about 10 a.m. when Woodard and Dutcher went to the infirmary under the pretense of fixing something, Iowa DCI Special Agent in Charge Rick Rahn has previously said.
The men had access to hammers and a metal grinder because they had checked them out from the prison maintenance area. They were being supervised by McFarland.
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