Gentry wants to recall plea

A Marshalltown man who previously admitted to burning a local residence, church and killing animals wants to take back his guilty plea.

Van Allen Gentry, 48, voluntarily entered a guilty plea last month and said he wanted to commit a crime that would result in his incarceration. He was scheduled to be sentenced Monday, until he took back his plea.

Paul Crawford, assistant county attorney, said Judge Steve Oethe ordered a transcript to be prepared of his guilty plea and his lawyer will review that transcript to see if there is a way to argue to take back his plea.

The assistant county attorney said the judge will set a new court date for arguments about whether Gentry can take back his plea.

According to police records, on April 27, Gentry set a mattress on fire at a trailer home in the 400 block of West High Street. 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 is charged with two counts of second-degree arson, third-degree burglary, four counts of animal abuse and habitual offender sentencing enhancement.

He could face up to 38 years in prison for his charges.