Thomas Hager Jr. was alone Wednesday in the exercise room of the Boyle County Detention Center. He sat in a chair in the corner, idling away his recreation time.
Hager has been kept in isolation at the jail since his arrest in the May 21 shooting deaths of Ted Sparks, 54, of Danville and Mark Snyder, 21, of Waynesburg, and the wounding of Phillip White, 37, of Lancaster, who was shot as he tried to escape the High Street residence.
Hager, 39, of Danville, is charged with two counts of murder and first-degree assault in the shootings inside Sparks’ home, which police have said were drug related. A status hearing in the case Tuesday in Boyle Circuit Court was passed until Jan. 8 as there were no new developments to discuss.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Bottoms said Tuesday that his office and Hager’s two defense attorneys are preparing their cases. The two sides have met face-to-face to discuss matters, but no official plea offer has been made, Bottoms said.
It likely will be at least two months before the case moves to a point where a plea deal is on the table and Hager will have to choose to accept it or go to trial, where Bottoms could seek the death penalty if Hager is convicted.
Bottoms has not declared his intent to seek capital punishment, but such a move is expected if the case moves forward to trial. Hager was assigned two attorneys with experience defending capital cases, Aaron Currin of the Lexington Public Defender’s Office, and Ernie Lewis, former executive director of the state Department of Public Advocacy.
As Hager's case slowly works its way through Boyle Circuit Court, it is being watched by Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery, who prosecutes cases in Lincoln and Pulaski counties.
Montgomery's interest in the case stems from the death of Clint Disken 31, of Harrodsburg, whose decomposed body was discovered in May in a barn adjacent to a trailer in Hustonville that Hager and Disken shared.
Disken was with Hager when Disken last talked to family members in March. After Hager was charged with the two Danville murders in May, Disken’s mother, Patricia Devine, reported her son missing. His body was discovered a few days later when the owners of the Hustonville property where the two men had lived detected a foul odor coming from their barn.
An autopsy determined Disken was a homicide victim but could not identify the cause of death because the body was too decomposed.
Montgomery said Wednesday that Hager is a suspect in Disken’s death but has not been charged. The case is still being investigated by police, he said, though there is no rush to present it to a grand jury.
“It’s ongoing, but we’re kind of on the back burner with it, waiting to see what happens in Boyle County,” Montgomery said.