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Second Inmate Accused Of Anamosa Prison Killings Slated To Plead Guilty

Inmate Thomas Woodard will spend the rest of his life in prison for the brutal killings of two prison staffers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Family members of nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland say the loss of their loved ones has been profound and life-altering.
Kate Payne
Inmate Michael Dutcher is slated to plead guilty to four charges this week for his alleged role in the killings of two prison staffers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. His co-defendant Thomas Woodard pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month.

The second inmate accused of killing two staffers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary last March is expected to plead guilty to all four charges against him this week. Michael Dutcher had been slated to have a bench trial next week, but court filings indicate he now intends to plead guilty.

Prosecutors say Dutcher and his co-defendant Thomas Woodard killed Nurse Lorena Schulte and Correctional Officer Robert McFarland during a failed escape attempt from the sprawling stone prison on March 23.

Dutcher and Woodard faced two charges each of first degree murder, one charge each of second degree kidnapping and one charge each of attempted murder.

Woodard pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month to two life terms, served consecutively, without the possibility of parole.

Investigators say the men used prison-issued tools as weapons, beating Schulte and McFarland repeatedly with hammers. Both died at the scene, leaving behind loving families and devoted colleagues.

A third prison staffer, Lorie Matthes, was kidnapped during the attack. Inmate McKinley Roby suffered serious head trauma when he intervened and attempted to render aid to the victims.

The brutal killings have shaken prison staffers and inmates alike, prompting a wave of leadership changes and a slate of restrictions across the state’s 9 prisons.

Dutcher’s plea hearing and sentencing are scheduled for Sept. 15 at 9 a.m. at the Jones County Courthouse in Anamosa.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter