116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A bench trial set to start next week for an Anamosa inmate, charged with killing a prison officer and a registered nurse in March, will be reset for a later date.
Michael Dutcher, 28, who has pleaded not guilty, is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and attempted murder. He waived his speedy trial right Thursday during a phone hearing and asked for the court to reset his bench or non-jury trial in Jones County District Court.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover, during the hearing, said she would set a conference call with the defense and prosecution to select a trial date.
The other inmate charged in this case, Thomas Allen Woodard, 39, also has pleaded not guilty to the same charges. His trial is set for Sept. 21 in Linn County.
Earlier this month, Woodard again demanded speedy trial and will argue on Aug. 6 for another change of venue.
Woodard previously asked for the trial to moved out of Jones and it was moved to Linn, but his lawyers are concerned Woodard can’t receive a fair trial in Linn because of pretrial publicity and because the two people killed are from Linn County.
Hoover previously told the defense that every district has a backlog of cases due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it was difficult to get another county to accept the case.
The two inmates are accused of killing correctional officer Robert McFarland, 46, of Ely, and registered 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 and were found lying on the breakroom floor.
An inmate, McKinley Roby, suffered blunt-force 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, Rick Rahn, an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent in charge, 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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