Arsonist voluntarily pleads guilty

A Marshalltown man has pleaded guilty to burning a local residence, church and killing animals.

Van Allen Gentry, 48, voluntarily entered a guilty plea Monday and could face up to 38 years in prison for his charges.

In April Gentry started two fires – one at a local church building and another that killed a dog and three cats at a trailer home.

According to police records, on April 27 Gentry set a mattress on fire at the trailer home, 408 W. High St. #29. The following day he allegedly broke into the St. Mary convent building, 12 W. Linn St., and intentionally set a fire there. Hours later Gentry went to the police station and admitted to both crimes, according to police records.

Gentry pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree arson, third degree burglary, four counts of animal abuse and habitual offender sentencing enhancement.

He was also originally charged with of third-degree theft. This charge was dismissed during the plea agreement.

His sentencing date will be scheduled for Aug. 18.