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Man Gets 25 Years After Admitting Church Burglaries

January 30, 1999

VAN NUYS — A longtime church burglar, who in a change of heart turned himself in to police for a series of break-ins then pleaded guilty to the charges, got a little good will back Friday.

Henry Nolkemper faced 129 years to life in prison on five burglary counts because his admitted crimes were third strikes. Prosecutors dismissed four of the burglaries and a few special allegations, shaving off 104 years off his sentence.

"I think that 25 is enough time, especially since his crimes were nonviolent," Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Size said. "Had he had an attorney, I'm sure he could have negotiated that disposition."

A public defender was on hand to represent Nolkemper at his arraignment, but he fired the lawyer and, moved by the Easter season, pleaded guilty to the charges.

He later wanted to withdraw his plea, was appointed a new lawyer and underwent psychiatric examination, all of which prolonged the proceedings until Friday.

"He would have to reach 137 before he was eligible for parole and I didn't think that would occur," said Ron Levine, a lawyer with the Alternate Public Defender's Office, who represented Nolkemper.

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