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Inmate pleads guilty in deaths of Anamosa State Penitentiary staff members

Thomas Woodard pleaded guilty to four counts related to the deaths of two Anamosa State Penitentiary staff members.

JONES COUNTY, Iowa — Thomas Allan Woodard Jr. pleaded guilty to four counts related to the deaths of two Anamosa State Penitentiary staff members.

The deaths happened when Woodard was trying to escape the prison with another inmate, Michael Dutcher. When officer Robert McFarland and nurse Lorena Schulte tried to intervene, Woodward said he hit them the back of the head.

The plea bargain allows Woodard to serve his time in Nebraska instead of Iowa.

Woodard pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder, one count of second degree kidnapping and one count of attempted murder. He admitted to striking Schulte and McFarland with malice and intent to kill.

The attempted murder charge is connected to the assault of McKinley Roby, who suffered a traumatic injury to the back of his head.

Woodard also admitted to striking Roby with a hammer with intent to kill him.

Woodard faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

RELATED: 'This attack should have never happened': Union president says better staffing could have prevented deaths of 2 prison employees

RELATED: DOC: Inmate assaults correctional officer at Anamosa State Penitentiary

Watch: Former Anamosa inmate remembers Lorena Schulte, Robert McFarland fondly