Man pleads guilty to two counts of murder in Danville shooting deaths

BOYLE COUNTY, Ky. -- A man accused of murdering two other men in a shooting last May has pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and faces life in prison.

Thomas Hager Jr. was to stand trial for the shooting deaths of Mark Snyder and Ted Sparks in Danville in May 2012.

Hager also pleaded guilty to an assault charge.

He has been sentenced to life in prison. His attorneys told WKYT's Sean Evans that they preferred pleading guilty to risking a jury trial that could end in the death penalty.

"He was going to be capital eligible, eligible for the death penalty. What this plea did was ensure he would not be vulnerable to a death sentence. It allowed there to be closure, it allowed him to move on for the rest of his life," said Hager's defense, Ernie Lewis. He continued, "It's beneficial for the entire system. There were very few disputed facts. We didn't need a jury to settle disputed facts. Mr. Bottoms made an offer after evaluating his case. We evaluated our case, and we resolved it, I think, in a reasonable fashion."

Hager will be evaluated by the Kentucky Department of Corrections before he is placed in a facility.

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