Hager appears likely to plead in Danville murder case
In this file photo, deputies escorted suspect Thomas Hager Jr. into Boyle Circuit Court in July for his arraignment. (Todd Kleffman / March 6, 2013)
“The only thing we can say at this point is that we are working toward a resolution,” said Ernie Lewis, one of Hager’s attorneys.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Bottoms echoed Lewis’ comment about resolving the case while noting that Hager’s next court appearance is April 18, the day on the circuit court docket set aside for defendants to enter guilty pleas.
Hager was not present in the courtroom for Tuesday’s status hearing on the case. Lewis and fellow defense attorney Aaron Currin said they were going to the Boyle County Detention Center to speak to Hager following the hearing.
Hager, 39, of Danville is charged with two counts of murder in the May 21 shooting deaths of Ted Sparks, 54, of Danville and Mark Snyder, 21, of Waynesburg, inside Sparks’ residence on High Street.
He also is charged with first-degree assault for allegedly shooting Phillip White, 37, of Lancaster, as White tried to escape the High Street residence.
Police said Hager has confessed to the crimes, which authorities have said were drug-related without providing any further details.
Bottoms never officially declared his intent to seek the death penalty against Hager but likely would have if the case moved toward trial. Lewis and Currin, who have experience defending capital cases, were brought in to represent Hager early on in the case.
Neither Bottoms nor Lewis would discuss any possible offer that Hager appears likely to plead guilty to. One likely scenario is a prison sentence of life without parole in exchange for not seeking the death penalty at trial.
Hager also is a suspect in a third murder, the death of his former roommate Clint Disken, 31, of Harrodsburg. Disken disappeared last March and his badly decomposed body was found in May in a barn in Hustonville where Hager and Disken shared a mobile home. An autopsy later showed that Disken was the victim of a homicide.
Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery, who prosecutes cases in Lincoln and Pulaski counties, said earlier this year that he was waiting for the outcome of Hager’s cases in Boyle County before deciding how to proceed in the Disken case. Montgomery identified Hager as a suspect but noted that he has not yet been charged related to Disken’s death.