Knoxville — John Earl Kingma, 57, of Pella, entered an Alford plea of guilty to first-degree theft charges Friday morning.
On Jan. 29, Kingma was found in possession of keys to money machines for two car washes in Pella. These keys, according to the rightful owners, have been missing for five years. In that time, Kingma has stolen $60,000 from the machines.
In exchange for his guilty plea this morning, the State, represented by Marion County Attorney Ed Bull, has offered to recommend a deferred judgment, three years' probation, court costs, attorney's fees and restitution. The court is not bound by the plea agreement, and Kingma could still be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Every time a defendant changes a plea to guilty, the presiding judge asks him or her a series of questions to ensure the defendant's rights have not been violated and he/she is entering the plea at will and understands the consequences.
Judge Gregory Hulse heard the plea today and asked Kingma these questions, to several of which, Kingma phrased his answer as "I believe so." Hulse became concerned about that and asked Kingma directly if he is certain about what he is doing. Kingma said he was certain.
Kingma is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, Oct. 19, at 9:30 a.m.